NASA's Mark, Scott Kelly 'Twin Study' reveals possible stress

After his year in space, Scott's telomeres were longer than his brother's.

The official results of the study aren't out yet, but initial results are showing interesting differences between the twins. During the study, the scientists of NASA studied Scientists the genetic differences between NASA's present astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent nearly a year in space, and his matching twin Mark.

According to NASA, Scott Kelly's space-stretched telomeres could be related to the increased exercise regimen and diet while aboard the space station that's hyper-focused on keeping astronauts healthy. To carry out this study, NASA picked astronaut brothers- Scott and Mark Kelly.

Space travel, it turns out, does more than make us weightless, it can even make the ends of your chromosomes bigger.

DNA methylation, meanwhile, a way for your body to control DNA activity without changing your DNA sequence, went down in Scott, but up in Mark. One thing is clear, though: the longer you're in space, the more it changes your body.

Interestingly, Scott Kelly's white blood cell telomeres increased in length during his stay on the ISS.

Though Scott's telomeres returned to their pre-flight lengths shortly after he returned to Earth, these results were totally unexpected, since telomeres naturally shrink over the course of one's life, and the stresses of spaceflight are supposed to accelerate this. Scientists are still unsure of what this means, but there is no doubt that this study has received ground-breaking results that will continue to be studied. A series of studies will be conducted on "ten unrelated astronauts" over the next two years to determine whether they experience the same anomaly during spaceflight. In addition, the study report also highlights that, Scott, during the living period in space, also experienced less DNA methylation - the process when perticular types of molecules called "methyl groups" integrated to DNA molecules, while, his brother experienced an amplified DNA methylation during his stay on Earth. Instead, they lengthened while in space, and returned to normal fairly quickly when he came back to Earth. Comparingly, a twin studies also means that it is a study that is performed to see the overall role of genes in the development of a trait or disorder. However, "the changes in Scott seemed to be larger than normal".

NASA's Twins Study of his health has released some preliminary data.

The twins will review all the findings before they are published to avoid revealing any genetic predisposition they don't want made public.

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