Over the past week, NASA has been publishing more and more data regarding its most recent Twins Study. The basic premise of the experiment was to see what happens to the human body as a result of space travel. In order to study this, NASA studied the genetics of twin astronauts: Mark and Scott Kelly. While Scott spent 320 days in space over the 2015-2016 year (the longest continuous spaceflight to date), his brother remained on Earth. They sequenced both twins’ DNA prior to liftoff, midway through the spaceflight, and once again after Scott returned. Ladies and gents, the results are out of this world.
While the full study won’t be fully released for quite some time, the initial findings are pretty stellar. For example, Scott’s telomeres got longer. What on earth is a telomere? Well, its something that sits at the end of our chromosomes and as we age, it gets shorter. Basically, it’s just a natural process that occurs in our bodies as a result of getting older. While NASA isn’t exactly sure why Scott’s telemeres seemed to be reversing in age, they do say this may be due his reduced calorie space diet and extra exercise.
But before you think that space might prove to be a fountain of youth, it’s important to recognize the less than pleasant results of spending so much time in space. Scott not only showed a reduction in cognitive function (something scientists have known about for years), he also showed a slowing of bone formation during the latter half of his travels. Scientists are also in the process of looking at 3-indolepropionic (IPA), a metabolite produced in the stomach, which seems to show some variance in Scott’s gut bacteria while he was in space.
That’s not all, folks! So far, they found hundreds of genome mutations between the two brothers. With so much data at their fingertips, NASA is going to be working on this study for a while.
Source: Yahoo News