Skip to page content Mission Information


NSCOR: Space Radiation and Gastrointestinal Cancer: A Comprehensive Strategy for Risk Assessment and Model Development (NNX15AI21G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Cell and molecular biology
Radiation biology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human Strain: Epithelial cells (M10)
Scientific Name: Mus musculus Species: Mouse Strain: C57BL/6
Scientific Name: Mus Musculus Species: Mouse Strain: APC1638

Gastrointestinal (GI) tumors are common in the U.S, and colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer, accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths. Precancerous lesions are present in about 10% of adults at age 40 (younger than the average age of astronauts) and increases to about 25% in older adults. Due to the high frequency of CRC among the US population, even a small exposure to space radiation will have a major impact on the risk estimates and planning for future long-term missions into space.
The overarching goal of this NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR) study is to model the relative risk of colonic and stomach tumorigenesis resulting from exposure to high-priority space radiation beams, and to compare these data to gamma radiation where human epidemiologic data are available. Examining both quantitative in vivo tumorigenesis data and molecular events in mouse tissues and human colonocytes will generate the information needed to scale human epidemiologic data for low-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation exposures.
In support of this goal, the present study is defined by four main aims:
(1) Quantify GI tumorigenesis and qualitatively analyze tumor tissue samples in GI cancer mouse models. These data will be used to understand the mechanisms driving carcinogenic events triggered by space radiation and explore the protective potential of two plausible chemoprotective agents: metformin and 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1,9- dien-28-oic acid (CDDO), an oral-available anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant.
(2) Deconstruct the signaling events and consequences of space radiation exposure on GI cells, including stem cells, to inform the development of new countermeasures.
(3) Characterize IR-induced neoplastic events in normal diploid human colonocytes. Information gleaned from this project will inform countermeasure development and help mitigate cancer risk among crew members.
(4) Develop systems biology and mathematical modeling approaches for GI cancer risk assessment. These modeling approaches will allow researchers to identify aberrations in GI cells and predict the effects of persistent exposure to the cocktail of ionizing radiations astronauts will be subject to on long-term missions to Mars and beyond.

++ -- View more

Cosmic radiation
Gastrointestinal system
Gamma rays

Tumor formation

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2014-15 HERO NNJ14ZSA001N