NASA and the nonprofit Methuselah Foundation's New Organ Alliance have jointly launched a $500,000 prize competition that seeks methods to grow human tissue to support deep space missions.
Under a controlled laboratory environment, three teams will develop a thick vascularized organ tissue that will function as organ models for studies of deep space environmental effects as part of the Vascular Tissue Challenge, NASA said Tuesday.
“The outcome of this challenge has the potential to revolutionize healthcare on Earth, and could become part of an important set of tools used to minimize the negative effects of deep space on our future explorers,“ said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA's space technology mission directorate.
Under the competition, the teams will create vascularized tissue of more than .39 inches in thickness and with more than 85 percent survival of the cells needed throughout a 30-day test period.
Competitors will also provide proposals on how to advance their study under a microgravity setting inside the International Space Station.
NASA says the the vascularized tissue holds the potential to help accelerate research-and-development efforts for organ transplants on Earth.