NASA's 'Twins Study' May Take Two Years Before Release Of Official ResultsBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA has revealed the first genetic results of the "Twins Study." This comes after astronaut Scott Kelly returned from his most recent mission. However, the official results of the whole study may take about two years to be released.
Gizmodo reported that twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly have volunteered to become test subjects for NASA's "Twins Study." The project is a 10-part investigation in understanding how space travel affects the human body.
The study required scientists to collect blood samples as well as other biological data from the twins while they were both on Earth and in space. While The Washington Post noted that the research findings will not be confirmed until after about two years, initial details of the study have already been announced by NASA.
According to CNN, the preliminary results from the study with Scott Kelly as well as Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko have been released last week at the Investigator's Workshop for NASA's Human Research Program. The findings provided new insight as scientists examined a wide range of information about the astronauts' health.
Researchers tried to determine whether a "space gene" was activated during the time that Scott spent in space. They found that Scott and Mark Kelly had hundreds of mutations unique to themselves. Over 200,000 RNA molecules were presented differently.
Moreover, Scott's DNA experienced chemical modifications while he was in space. However, they returned to normal after he arrived back on Earth. Mark experienced the same thing in the middle of the study but also returned to normal after the event.
Researchers believed that this is proof of how genes are sensitive to changing environments, whether on Earth or in space. What's interesting, though, was that Scott's telomeres increased while he was in space.
Usually, telomeres, the repetitive sequences in the end of a chromosome that protects it from deterioration or fusion with other chromosomes, decrease in length as an individual gets older. However, they returned to normal once Scott came back to Earth.