IIT Madras and NASA researchers study multi-drug resistant pathogens on international space station

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Chennai, Jun 10 (PTI) Indian Institute of Technology Madras and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) researchers are studying multi-drug resistant pathogens on the International Space Station (ISS), which could have key applications on earth as well for the health of astronauts.

The researchers conducted a comprehensive study to understand the genomic, functional, and metabolic enhancements observed in multidrug-resistant pathogens with a particular focus on Enterobacter bugandensis, a prevalent nosocomial (hospital acquired infection) pathogen found on surfaces within the ISS, an IIT-M press release said.

One of the findings is the accelerated mutations and "the findings hold promise for applications in controlled settings on Earth, including hospital intensive care units and surgical theatres, where multidrug-resistant pathogens pose significant challenges to patient care." Understanding the genomic adaptations of multidrug-resistant E. bugandensis can aid in developing targeted antimicrobial treatments. Insights into the persistence and succession patterns of E. bugandensis in space can inform strategies for managing microbial contamination in closed environments like spacecraft and hospitals.

Astronauts operating in altered immune conditions with limited access to traditional medical facilities face unique health challenges during space missions.

Understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS is paramount for assessing the impact of these microorganisms on astronaut well-being.

"The current study emphasises the critical need to investigate the pathogenic potential of microorganisms in space environments to safeguard astronaut health and mitigate the risks associated with opportunistic pathogens," the release added. PTI VGN KH