Nasa's twin study reveals fascinating changes to the human body in space

16 April 2019 - 09:38 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Twin study by Nasa made some fascinating revelations about the molecular changes that occur in the human body when in space.
Twin study by Nasa made some fascinating revelations about the molecular changes that occur in the human body when in space.
Image: Nasa/YouTube

Reports by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) says that the latest comprehensive study by Nasa, revealed some fascinating results about the changes that occur in the human body when in space, and what this could mean in relation to human health.

The study in which identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly were case studies revealed that the human body responds to environmental changes at a molecular level. Mark remained on earth during the course of the study, while Scott spent 340 days in International Space Station (ISS).

Scott's DNA expression for example, changed and remained so even upon his return to earth. This, according to Nasa, was indicative of the instability of his genetic make-up. The main changes were in how his genes made proteins.

The results further revealed that there were also changes with his mitochondrial genes, which are responsible for energy generation by the body cells which are related to the immune system. The direct effects of these changes to his immune system remain unclear.

Scott's telomeres, which act as the protective layer to chromosomes during their replication, became longer in space, which was a shocker as these shorten with age, while upon his return to earth, some had disintegrated, and some lost. 

Nasa said it's looking to do more advanced studies, dubbing this one as "just the beginning".

It wants to improve its tools and equipment by adding a "DNA portable technique", which could allow study subjects to "read" their DNA. 


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