Saturday February 18, 2017

SpaceX is sending a drug resistant superbug to space

Unusual cargo is headed to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be carrying the lethal pathogen MRSA.

Unusual cargo is headed to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will be carrying the lethal pathogen MRSA. (Chuck Bennett/The Associated Press)

Listen 7:14

The pathogen known as MRSA -- methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus -- is lethal, and highly resistant to known antibiotics. 

Now it's being sent into space by the nano-biotechnology company Nanobiosym. More precisely, Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket is going to carry it to the International Space Station. Once there, the pathogen will be subject to experiments designed to test the hypothesis that microgravity will accelerate the bug's mutation. 

If it behaves as predicted, scientists could get a sneak preview of how the bug will behave down the line. 

Nanobiosym's Chairperson, CEO and scientific director Dr. Anita Goel suggests that, ultimately, the findings from the research could be used to help drug development and find molecules that may be effective against MRSA strains that are predicted in the lab on the ISS.