Astronaut's DNA no longer matches his twin, NASA study finds

Astronaut's DNA no longer matches his twin, NASA study finds

Astronaut's DNA no longer matches his twin, NASA study finds

Identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly, are subjects of NASA's Twins Study. The popular NASA Twins Study revealed another discovery thanks to the long-term observations of Scott Kelly's health compared to his brother Mark.

Scott resided on the International Space station between March 2015 and 2016, while Mark stayed on Earth, and NASA kept a close eye on both of them to monitor any differences.

This remaining seven per cent points to the possible longer term changes in genes related to his immune system, DNA fix, bone formation networks, hypoxia and hypercapnia, the U.S. space agency said in a statement. Then, Newsweek took things even further with the headline, "NASA Twins Study Confirms Astronaut's DNA Actually Changed in Space". Gene expression refers to the ways in which DNA adapts or reacts to changes in its environment.

So seven percent of Kelly's genes changed their expression - a pretty standard number for anyone under stress like a mountain climber or scuba diver, scientists said. In light of that, it's no surprise that some misunderstandings about NASA's Twins Study preliminary findings have happened.

"Scott's DNA did not fundamentally change", the agency said.

The Twins Study helps NASA gain insight into what happens to the human body in space beyond the usual six-month International Space Station missions previously studied in other astronauts.

For Scott, most of the changes experienced returned to their former state as his body readjusted to Earth's gravity once again. And he did not have 7 percent of his genes altered by space travel.

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The transformation of 7% of Scott's DNA suggests longer-term changes in genes related to at least five biological pathways and functions. Those stresses contribute to the existence of hundreds of "space genes", explains Cornell University researcher Chris Mason.

The Kelly brothers have almost identical genomes, allowing for an unprecedented look at the physical effects of long-term spaceflight. For almost a year, commander Scott Kelly living onboard the global space station.

That divergence in chimp versus human DNA comes from roughly 40 million mutations in the base-pairs, or letters, that make up the genetic code, Live Science previously reported.

The changes occurred in Kelly's telomere - a cap of genetic material at the end of each chromosome. We are at the beginning of our understanding of how space flight affects the molecular level of the human body.

The research on Kelly and his one year mission into space is a stepping stone for a three-year mission to Mars.

Researchers are now evaluating what impact the findings might have upon space travel beyond Earth's orbit.

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