A bizarre finding has raised some new questions about space travel and the effect it has on humans after NASA's Twins Study revealed that 7% of astronaut Scott Kelly's genes did not return to normal after he returned from his year in space.
The study compared the genes of Kelly before and after he spent a year in space as well as an extensive comparison to his identical twin brother Mark's genes. Scott Kelly spent a year aboard the International Space Station. Kelly joked on Twitter about how excited he was he no longer had to call his twin his identical twin brother anymore.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What? My DNA changed by 7%! Who knew? I just learned about it in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call <a href="https://twitter.com/ShuttleCDRKelly?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShuttleCDRKelly</a> my identical twin brother anymore. <a href="https://t.co/6idMFtu7l5">https://t.co/6idMFtu7l5</a></p>— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) <a href="https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly/status/972620001340346368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 10, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Kelly's tweet isn't wrong, NASA's study confirmed that Kelly's DNA no longer matches his identical twin brother's. The study examined the transformation of 7% of Scott's DNA which suggests that longer-term changes in genes related to at least five biological pathways and functions.
The latest results from the two of a kind study with the Kelly twins were released at the 2018 Investigator's Workshop for NASA's Human Research Program in January. The first round of the study's results was published at the 2017 Investigator's Workshop. The study has now come full-circle and shed a little more light on our understanding of space.
Chris Mason of Weill Cornell Medicine also reported on Scott's "space genes" while confirming the results of his own separate NASA study last year. While most of Scott's genes returned to normal after his return from space, 93% to be exact, there was still a small subset of several hundred "space genes" which were still disrupted.
It is theorized these mutations are found only after spaceflight due to the stresses of space travel.
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