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Local company launches product into space

A California medical device manufacturer with offices in Springboro is involved in a NASA experiment on the International Space Station to study the effects of space travel on human health, company officials said.

Hardy Diagnostics makes culture media used in the detection and identification of microorganisms. The company, headquartered in Santa Maria, Calif., has a manufacturing facility, distribution center and accounting office in Springboro.

The NASA microbiome experiment is studying changes that occur in microbes in and on the body during a space mission. A microbiome is the entire array of living microorganisms in a particular environment. Researchers hope to understand whether these changes in space will result in health risks for astronauts.

“What happens to the body in those sorts of environments that may change the way that bacteria cover the body,” said Mike Welch, the company’s human resources manager. “That may be no big deal, or it actually could be enough of a change that people are then going to be susceptible to things that they wouldn’t otherwise be that would damage them.”

Astronauts will use Hardy Diagnostics swab rinse kits to sample the microbiome in and on their own bodies, as well as that on the surfaces within the space station, said Christopher Catani, the company’s director of sales and marketing. The sampling devices are test tube vials with a swab and liquid designed to keep bacteria alive for analysis.

Researchers may be able to apply their findings to people working in other high-stress, confined environments, such as submarines and isolated outposts in arctic regions, Catani said.

Hardy Diagnostics in February announced the opening of its manufacturing facility in Springboro. The company invested more than $2 million to build a clean room and purchase culture media sterilization equipment for the facility at 429 S. Pioneer Blvd.

The company in 2011 moved its Ohio distribution center to Springboro from Lima.

Hardy Diagnostics manufactures more than 3,500 products for the culture and identification of bacteria and fungi from its two manufacturing facilities in California and Ohio. The company services more than 8,000 U.S. laboratories, officials said.

Founded in 1980, Hardy Diagnostics employs 200 workers, including 25 in Springboro. The privately held company has annual sales of about $30 million.

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