As part of Space X’s most recent mission an unusual cargo was aboard; “Organs on Chips” are structures no bigger than USB drive, containing millions of human cells mimic the function of an organ. They are used to study a wide range of diseases as well as test potential treatments.
Tissue chips are being deployed to the International Space Station as part of a new experimental program to investigate the mechanisms of aging and other diseases under conditions of reduced gravity.
The question is, why launch them into space? Lucie Low, the program manager of Tissue Chips in Space, provided the answer
Microgravity is a good tool because it accelerates these disease-like mechanisms. Microgravity causes all sorts of changes to human physiology. You lose muscle mass; it affects your eyes, kidneys, and immune system. Microgravity can give us some causative information on what might cause a kidney stone, for example, because on Earth, it could take a long time for kidney stones to develop, but they happen quickly in space. Osteoporosis takes decades to develop, but you can model it in space in a very short time.