South Australian start-up ResearchSAT is leading the way with bacteria-based space research promising major developments in the pharmaceutical world.
By Eva Blandis, Future Adelaide Intern
Space may be known as the final frontier but for one local research company it is just the beginning.
SA-based start-up ResearchSat will boldly launch bacteria into space with the intention to make major developments in antibiotic research. The first satellite mission will take place in November of this year with the hopes of discovering ground-breaking data.
ResearchSat is based and carrying out their development operations from the University of South Australia’s startup incubator, the Innovation & Collaboration Centre (ICC) and was a part of the Venture Catalyst Space business incubator program.
The satellite, named Advanced Diagnostic Instrumentation Laboratory (ADI-LAB), will study the effects of space’s microgravity on biologics.
“To put it in layman terms, we like to send bacteria and other fungi viruses into space to see how they mutate,” founder and chief executive officer Raviteja Duggineni says. “These missions will help to develop drugs much faster.”
The start-up’s primary focus is to research the effects of microgravity on antibiotics and how to improve their effectiveness.
“We want to send as many micro-organisms to space as possible and get mutated samples of them,” Duggineni says.
“We are then able to quantify the mutation which helps us to predict and develop new antibiotics.”
Although results won’t be obtained directly after the first suborbital mission, ResearchSat’s satellite launch is a step toward huge developments in pharmaceutical research.
“It will take two years minimum until we see some outcomes, because a single mission doesn’t give us enough data,” Duggineni says.
Once launched, the satellite’s movements and discoveries will be studied from ResearchSat’s office at Lot Fourteen’s innovation district.
Christian Thaler-Wolski, space lead for the Stone & Chalk start-up hub, says that microgravity research is unique and exciting for researchers in various fields.
“One reason why researchers have always been interested in microgravity or zero-gravity environments is because you can do stuff in space that you can’t do on earth,” Thaler-Wolski says.
“It’s a long way for Australia to become a space power, but Adelaide is definitely punching above its weight.”
Duggineni says he understands ResearchSat is the only South Australian company doing this kind of research.
“Our origin is South Australia, and we will continue to progress here too.”
Original article published on adelaidenow.com.au
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