NASA twins study shows a year in space causes thousands of genetic changes

CNET | 4/11/2019 | Jackson Ryan
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The Kelly brothers were part of a year-long study to assess how spaceflight affects the human body. Note: Mark Kelly's excellent mustache does not make him the evil twin.

For 340 days, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly lived and worked inside the International Space Station while his identical twin brother Mark, a former astronaut, was going about life down on Earth. In that time, the brother's bodies -- their genes, guts, immune systems, blood and brains -- were part of an elaborate, multifaceted study designed to teach us how spaceflight might affect human bodies.

Course - Year - Kelly - Brothers - Microscope

Over the course of a year, the Kelly brothers were put under the proverbial microscope, subjected to a bit of prodding and pushing, and provided blood, saliva and urine samples to a host of research teams. The idea being that Mark, down on Earth, would provide a valuable control subject to compare with Scott as he spent a year in orbit. Every few weeks, Scott's frozen biological samples were ferried between the space station and Earth by Soyuz resupply rockets.

The results of the "Twin Study," which featured researchers from 12 different universities working across 10 different projects, are set to be published in the April 12 issue of Science. The findings demonstrate how the human body responds to time spent in space, unraveling the complex changes that take place when it's exposed to the wholly alien experience of living in microgravity.

Research - Team - Variety - Processes - Gene

The research team studied a wide variety of human physiological processes, including gene expression, gut health, immunity and cognition, allowing them to pin down just how much space might change Scott while his brother stayed at home.

Preliminary results had already filtered out since the experiment's completion in 2016, such as those pointing to the idea that space lengthens telomeres, the protective caps on chromosomes that generally shorten...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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