NASAs Twins Study shows how space affects human body

NASAs Twins Study shows how space affects human body

Fifty-year-old Scott spent a year aboard the ISS in 2015 while his identical twin stayed safe on planet earth. Because telomeres are important for cellular genomic stability, additional studies on telomere dynamics are planned for future one-year missions to see whether results are repeatable for long-duration missions.

Researchers also found that his immune system acted basically the same way it would for you and me; a flu vaccine administered worked exactly as it would have on Earth. His body acted as if it were under attack. Both are now retired as NASA astronauts, and Mark is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.

Human beings can spend a year among the stars without major consequences to their health. Tests disclosed epigenetic tags on more than 1000 of his genes, that were absent in his preflight samples or samples from Mark. (Contrary to some breathless headlines, Scott Kelly didn't undergo a space-induced change in his genetic code.) Gene expression changed in both Kellys during the study but in significantly different ways. One clear trend emerged in the findings, which were published today in the journal Science: a year in space changed Scott Kelly's body, but many of those changes were only temporary and vanished after time back on the ground.

Most puzzlingly for the researchers, they also indicated that Scott Kelly's telomeres, the protective ends of chromosomes which gradually shorten while we get older, in fact got longer while he was in space.

Months later, he still showed a slightly elevated number of cells with shortened telomeres, possibly an effect of radiation exposure. Shorter telomeres put a person at higher risk for accelerated aging, and for age-related diseases like heart problems and cancer, Bailey said.

While Mark Kelly stayed Earth-bound during the experiment, he is also a qualified NASA astronaut who flew several space shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011. Scott Kelly remained 340 days.

"Imagine going to take the SATs when you have the flu". As for the genes that didn't bounce back, it's hard to know what to make of them, Mason says. In his memoir, "Endurance", he wrote about suffering from skin rashes, burning sensations and horribly swollen legs as well as nausea in the days after he returned.

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Over the 25 months surrounding Scott's trip to space, research labs across the country measured his mind and body and collected his blood, pee, and poop.

"The return was much worse than the adaptation of getting up there, especially for the year flight", Kelly told reporters on Thursday. "The most worrisome symptoms I had, which was swelling in my legs, the rashes, were gone after a couple of weeks". However, a more pronounced decrease in speed and accuracy was observed after he landed and persisted for six-months. "I would say it took eight months before I felt completely back to normal". "You really have to worry about the risk of cancer and things like that that are going to be associated with these kinds of mutations".

"Thanks to the twin brothers and a cadre of investigators who worked tirelessly together, the valuable data gathered from the Twins Study has helped inform the need for personalized medicine and its role in keeping astronauts healthy during deep space exploration, as NASA goes forward to the Moon and journeys onward to Mars".

The exceptions - like damage to Scott's DNA and drops in his mental performance - give NASA a starting point for research into the effects of extended spaceflight on the human body. "However, since we only have two people in our study, we can't say that these changes are due to space travel itself", says Feinberg.

Scott Kelly on board the ISS.

In All, people are exposed to, among other things, the weightlessness and radiation.

Dr Michael Snyder of Stanford University said there are "thousands of gene and molecular changes that occur as someone goes in space". "The radiation exposure will certainly be a big concern as they get outside of the protection of the Earth". The samples from Scott during the flight were collected on the space station when shipments from Earth arrived on a Soyuz rocket and, that same day, shipped back to Earth on the rocket so that the samples could be processed within 48 hours. Einstein's special theory of relativity leads to a "twins paradox" in which someone moving at a high velocity, such as 17,500 miles per hour in low Earth orbit, ages more slowly than a twin on Earth.

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