Jacksonville Mayo Clinic's experiment heads to space station

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville is trying to put an end to strokes by utilizing space.

Mayo Clinic said stem cells from its lab were on board Sunday’s SpaceX launch. The goal is to see if the cells mass produce in space. If so, they could be used for treating strokes and finding a cure.

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Experts are eager to know whether these special cells, which are derived from the body’s bone marrow, can be more quickly mass-produced in microgravity.

“At Mayo Clinic, research drives everything we do for patients,” says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., vice president, Mayo Clinic, and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida. “This space cargo carries important material for research that could hold the key for developing future treatments for stroke ─ a debilitating health issue. Research such as this accelerates scientific discoveries into breakthrough therapies and critical advances in patient care.”

Dr. Abba Zubair said the cells can also be used to repair damaged organs. The only way right now to deal with that is a transplant, and with so many people on waiting lists he said the cells could be a game-changer.

“So the next option is to really harness the power of stem cells, so we can use these cells to repair the organ,” Zubair said. “It's quite an exciting opportunity.”