NASA to Use Endosafe-PTS to Assure Microbial Cleanliness on Earth; Detect Life on Mars
PTS being used in the zero gravity
simulator at NASA
Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (NYSE: CRL), a leading provider of pre-clinical research products and services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, is pleased to support NASA's Planetary Protection Program. The NASA scientists have found that the Endosafe®-PTS delivers results in 15 minutes and shows promise to replace their conventional three-day bioburden test.
Dr. Norman Wainwright of the Marine Biological Laboratory has collaborated with NASA scientists in feasibility studies using the Endosafe-PTS for surface monitoring to detect microbial contamination on spacecraft hardware and assembly areas. Experiments using the PTS were completed on the recently launched Mars Exploration Rovers, "Spirit" and "Opportunity".
The goal of Dr. Wainwright's studies with NASA scientists is to qualify Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) as a test for spacecraft microbial cleanliness and support possible use of the PTS as an onboard component of future space missions. Study results proved the PTS LAL method was comparative to conventional methods with regard to sensitivity and specificity. However, results with the PTS were real-time, whereas the current assay utilized by NASA for bioburden takes three days to complete.
The Endosafe-PTS is a rapid LAL test system that uses a cartridge loaded with FDA-licensed LAL reagents and a handheld spectrophotometric reader. The PTS is a new product for CRL's endotoxin detection business based in Charleston, SC, which usually sells its products to Quality Control laboratories in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies around the world.
"It is intriguing to think that Charles River's test system can be used to detect life-forms on spacecraft and maybe someday in extraterrestrial environments," said Dr. Wainwright. "With test results available so quickly, engineers can gain valuable time in their efforts. Our recent studies have been even more promising as the PTS performed well in reduced gravity tests. We also used the PTS in support of the current Mars mission to confirm that contaminants were not going to be brought into space."
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