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NASA's Twins Study shows how space affects human body

ANI | Updated: Apr 12, 2019 23:49 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 12 (ANI): NASA has published the results of its year-long Twins Study on astronauts Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark, from 2015-2016.
The research was conducted to study the impact of the extreme environment of space on the human body and give insights on maintaining crew health on even extreme expeditions to the Moon and Mars.
While Mark provided a baseline for observation on Earth, Scott provided a comparable test case during the 340 days he spent aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Changes were observed across physical, mental, and genetic levels.
As NASA explained on its official blog, gene expression changes, cognitive functions changes, immune system response, and telomere changes were observed between the identical twins.
Telomeres, which are the markers of aging at the end of the chromosomes, were unexpectedly longer in Scott when in space, but they returned to normal six months after landing. In contrast, Mark’s telomeres were stable throughout the entire period when he was on Earth.
Meanwhile, Scott’s immune system responded appropriately in space as the flu vaccine worked exactly how it worked on Earth.
Lastly, while in space, the expression of Scott’s genes changed, but the majority returned to normal after six months on Earth. However, the genes related to the immune system and DNA repair did not return to baseline after return.
The Twins Study incorporated 10 investigations where both Scott and Mark participated in a number of biomedical studies, including how the human body adjusts to known hazards such as weightlessness and space radiation, while Mark underwent parallel studies on Earth to compare the effects on the body.
It is the first time extensive research on identical twins has been carried out. The Twins Study has helped establish a model for future biomedical research. (ANI)