NASA’s Twin Study Shows Genetic Differences Between Scott And Mark Kelly After A Year In Space

Posted: Jan 30 2017, 7:18am CST | by , Updated: Jan 30 2017, 9:55pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA’s Twin Study Shows Genetic Differences Between Scott and Mark Kelly After a Year in Space
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  • Astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly showed Contrast despite being Twins in Recent Study
 

NASA astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly showed quite a contrast in their stress levels despite being twins in a recent study.

NASA’s twin study has been completed. The results may surprise many. The gene expression of both Scott Kelly and his twin Mark Kelly showed that while they both spent 365 days aboard the ISS, their stress levels differed by a wide margin.

Both were gauged before, during and after the missions. Apparently the gene expressions had undergone radical transformations. This involved DNA methylation and several other biological factors.  

The lengths of the telomeres in the chromosomes of both twins along with the gut microbiomes they possessed were brought within the ambit of the study.

There were differences that were present. It was obvious from the very start of the study. The real challenge was in sifting through the raw data and finding out which changes are due to the environmental influences and which are due to genetic susceptibility.

The results of this study are not meant to be generalizations that apply to others as well. The environment aboard the ISS is not for the weak or sensitive. It spartan and very harsh.

This physically taxing milieu can only be weathered by the roughest and toughest of individuals. That means the astronauts have to be physically in tiptop condition.

The study of genomics in outer space is the first of its kind. Scott Kelly spent a total of 520 in outer space. His twin brother Mark Kelly spent 54 days during four space shuttle missions.

Since both twins had the same genome sequence and had similar experiences aboard the ISS, NASA arranged for the study to get to the bottom of how gene expression varied in outer space. 

Scott’s telomeres were longer than Mark’s. This was the reverse of what the scientists had thought would be the case. It was very puzzling indeed. DNA methylation meanwhile decreased in Scott’s case as opposed to Mark’s.

After their missions were over, these levels returned to normal. As for the gene expression signatures of both twins, they also altered over a period of time. Scott’s were however more prominent than his identical twin’s.

Overall, the changes in Scott were greater. This may be due to the consumption of freeze-dried food and sleeping while in a suspended state in space.

This twin study holds great importance since it could come in handy in the field of space medicine. The astronauts of the future may be kept in healthier conditions thanks to advances in the preparation of certain ergogenic aids.

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