NASA sent a sample of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to space in hopes that the medical community can learn more about how superbugs mutate and become antibiotic-resistant, according to CNN.
Here are four things to know:
1. Anita Goel, PhD, lead study researcher, told CNN, "We are excited to put MRSA on the International Space Station and investigate the effects of microgravity on the growth and mutation patterns of these bugs."
2. Dr. Goel said she hypothesized that microgravity will speed up MRSA's mutation patterns, which will allow researchers to have a "sneak preview" of what the mutations will be like moving forward. Based on their observations, researchers hope to develop drugs that are not antibiotic-resistant.
3. NASA is sending the sample to an orbiting lab, in which researchers sequenced DNA in space for the first time in 2016.
4. Studies show microgravity's stressful conditions drive fungi growth, which researchers hope will too hold true for MRSA. Dr. Goel told CNN, "If indeed we can use the ISS as an accelerator, an incubator, to know what future mutations of superbugs like MRSA will be, we use that info to develop better algorithms on Earth to inform drug discovery and faster ways to get to smarter drugs that are more personalized and more precisely targeted to a bug or strain at hand."