Published: Fri, March 16, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Astronaut Twin Study: Space Travel Changes DNA

Astronaut Twin Study: Space Travel Changes DNA

Scott Kelly's stay in space and the Twin Study will also be the subject of a PBS documentary titled Beyond a Year in Space.

Kelly, now retired from Nasa, and his twin were no longer genetically the same.

This article has been republished from materials provided by NASA. But the remaining seven percent indicate long-term changes to genes that control immunity, DNA fix, bone formation, oxygen deficiencies, and excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, the space agency indicates.

The study was conducted by NASA's Human Research Program, and the preliminary findings were released at their Investigator's Workshop on the week of 23 January 2017.

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NASA created the study to research how one year in space could affect the human body.

In its report NASA said: "Whole-genome sequencing showed each twin has hundreds of unique mutations in their genome, more than expected, and some were found only after spaceflight, circulating in the blood as "cell-free DNA". The milestone flight was the longest single flight of any American, providing investigators an opportunity to see how human health changes in almost a year.

According to researchers, 7 percent of Scott's genes did not return to normal after his return to Earth two years ago.

However, it turns out that your perspective on your own existence isn't the only thing that changes. But about 7% of the changes have remained in the two years since he returned to Earth. The cells also may have seen damage to the mitochondria from that stress. Telomeres are chromosomes that shorten as a person ages, so that's why that change is such a noteworthy finding. Those became elongated while in space but shrank within the first 48 hours of return to life on Earth. But his genetic code had dramatically changed. Hypoxia (the response to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels), mitochondrial stress and damage, telomere length and DNA damage and fix (likely from radiation and diet restriction), collagen and bone formation (possible from zero gravity and fluid shifts), and hyperactive immune activity were all catalogued by Chris Mason, of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

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The researchers learned hyperactive immune activity.

Scott Kelly spent one year aboard the International Space Station during the study, while his brother remained on Earth. Ten groups of researchers, including Mason's team, are looking at a wide variety of information about the Kelly twins' health, including how gut bacteria, bones and the immune system might be affected by living off planet.

Nasa says the one-year mission is a part of their plans to launch a three-year mission to Mars.

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