Harnessing the Space Environment for the Discovery and Development of New Medicines

  • Phoebe Ryder
  • Martin BraddockEmail author
Living reference work entry


The unique nature of microgravity encountered in space provides both an opportunity and challenge for drug discovery and development that cannot be fully replicated on Earth. Scientific studies have been conducted across most phases of the drug discovery value chain and include the generation of superior protein crystals, identification, and validation of new drug targets, microarray analyses of transcripts attenuated by microgravity, and nonclinical in vivo studies to explore potential therapeutic benefit of potential new drugs and medicines which have regulatory approval for use in humans. Studies conducted on the Mir Space Station, Space Shuttle missions, and the International Space Station have had direct benefit for drug development programs such as those directed against reducing bone and muscle loss, increasing bone formation, and help us understand mechanisms for anti-microbial resistance. More recently, the demonstration of successful 3D bioprinting in space illustrates the potential to directly benefit patients on Earth. This review will highlight advances made in both drug discovery and development, illustrate gaps in our knowledge today and provide a future vision for how drug discovery and associated technologies may be advanced by harnessing the space environment.


Drug discovery Drug development Value chain Microgravity Radiation Drug stability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Newton’s Astronomical Society@Woolsthorpe, Woolsthorpe Manor, Water Lane, Woolsthorpe by ColsterworthGranthamUK
  2., NottinghamshireUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marlise Araújo dos Santos
    • 1
  • Yashwant Pathak
    • 2
  1. 1.Porto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Health College of PharmacyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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