GeneLab’s Sample Processing Lab Makes the Most out of Spaceflight Data

HRP Moon to Mars
The research done by GeneLab contributes to NASA’s missions here on Earth and beyond.

GeneLab is the first interactive, open-access omics database and platform created especially for spaceflight and bioinformatics studies, and provides the scientific community a valuable resource for exploring, evaluating, and discovering hypotheses of space biology. The platform offers users multiple tools to explore GeneLab data including: a comprehensive, well-annotated data repository for all space-related omics data; omics data analysis tools; space environmental metadata; and differential gene expression visualization tools.

GeneLab also offers a leading-edge Sample Processing Laboratory (SPL) that is responsible for generating omics data – transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenomics and genomics – from biological experiments aboard the International Space Station and space shuttle. To maximize the scientific return of every biological spaceflight experiment, the SPL uses Next Generation Sequencing capabilities to process the unused samples returned to Earth from space. All of the standard protocols used for nucleic acid (and protein) extraction, library preparation, and DNA sequencing were established in collaboration with the scientific community.

For consistency across experiments, once a protocol is established and verified for a particular tissue type, that same protocol is performed for every sample from every experiment containing that tissue type. This approach guarantees greater accuracy when comparing datasets from different spaceflight experiments. To increase the amount of omics data available from experiments, GeneLab collaborates with the scientific community worldwide to investigate new hypotheses. Integrating research with GeneLab omics datasets increases the power of spaceflight data.

As NASA gears toward returning to the Moon and heading out to Mars, the research done by GeneLab contributes to NASA’s missions here on Earth and beyond. New discoveries using GeneLab have already begun and will continue to deepen our understanding of biology and help us to discover cures for diseases, create better diagnostic tools, and ultimately enable astronauts to better withstand the rigors of long-duration spaceflight for deep-space missions.