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NSCF Travels with Axiom Space Mission to Continue Innovative Neurodegeneration Research on the International Space Station

18th January 2024

January 2024 flight planned for research studying Parkinson’s and primary progressive MS organoids in a way not possible on Earth

Photo Credit: Axiom Space

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (January 18, 2024) – The Louisville-based National Stem Cell Foundation (NSCF) is delighted to be part of the third Axiom Space (Ax-3) commercial astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled to launch January 18 at 4:49 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be the fifth flight for NSCF’s Cosmic Brain Organoid project since 2018, a first-in-kind study of neurodegeneration on the ISS using 3-D brain organoids derived from the cells of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).

“These commercial astronaut missions expand our access to the ISS for additional research in the unique environment of microgravity, accelerating data collection and moving this ground-breaking project forward at an accelerated pace,” says Dr. Paula Grisanti, CEO.

The ability to observe cell interactions in a way not possible on Earth will provide valuable new insight into how these disorders develop, accelerate biomarker discovery for early diagnosis, and open the door to potential new cell and drug therapy options for these and other neurodegenerative diseases that affect tens of millions of people worldwide. This is the first bi-coastal microgravity research collaboration between leading experts in the fields of Parkinson’s disease and MS, including research partners at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute and Dr. Jeanne Loring, Professor Emeritus at Scripps Research in San Diego, California.

The Ax-3 crew will carry nearly 30 projects up on this mission for a two week stay on the ISS, including ongoing important cancer research and projects to measure astronaut health for insights into innovations for improved health on Earth.

According to Dr. Grisanti, “The world is increasingly looking to space for answers to questions about improving human health on Earth. Space offers a completely unique research environment for the advancement of biological, agricultural, environmental, and additive manufacturing discoveries. We are excited to continue our innovative neurodegeneration research with the upcoming Axiom Space mission.”

About the Ax-3 Mission

Ax-3 will be the first all-European commercial astronaut mission to launch to the space station – redefining the pathway to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and helping chart a course toward Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station. The Ax-3 crewmembers are Commander Michael López-Alegría of the U.S. and Spain, Pilot Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, and Mission Specialists Alper Gezeravcı of Türkiye and Marcus Wandt of Sweden and ESA. To learn more about the Ax-3 mission, visit

About the National Stem Cell Foundation

The National Stem Cell Foundation is a non-profit organization that funds adult stem cell and regenerative medicine research, underwrites a professional development program for middle school science teachers inspiring the next generation of STEM pioneers nationwide, and covers copays and deductibles for children participating in clinical trials for rare diseases when those out-of-pocket costs are beyond a family’s means. For more information, visit