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We Now Have a Peek Into What the NASA Twins Study Will Reveal

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:24 pm

Preliminary research results for the NASA Twins Study debuted at NASA’s Human Research Program’s annual Investigators’ Workshop in Galveston, Texas the week of January 23. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned home last March after nearly one year in space living on the International Space Station. His identical twin brother, Mark, remained on Earth.

Researchers found this to be a great opportunity for a nature versus nurture study, thus the Twins Study was formed. Using Mark, a retired NASA astronaut, as a ground-based control subject, ten researchers are sharing biological samples taken from each twin before, during and after Scott’s mission. From these samples, knowledge is gained as to how the body is affected by extended time in space. These studies are far from complete. Additional research analysis is in process.

Mike Snyder, the Integrated Omics investigator, reported altered levels of a panel of lipids in Scott (the flight twin) that indicate inflammation. Additionally, there was an increased presence of 3-indolepropionic (IPA) in Mark (the ground-based twin). This metabolite is known to be produced only by bacteria in the gut and is being investigated as a potential brain antioxidant therapeutic. IPA is also known to help maintain normal insulin activity to regulate blood sugar after meals.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:26 pm

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Credits: NASA

Identical twins, Scott and Mark Kelly, are the subjects of NASA’s Twins Study. Scott (left) spent a year in space while Mark (right) stayed on Earth as a control subject. Researchers are looking at the effects of space travel on the human body.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:28 pm



NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recently spent one year in space, while his identical twin brother Mark (a former NASA astronaut himself) stayed on Earth. The mission was part of an important health experiment, looking at how being in space affects our bodies. While the data are still being studied carefully, NASA recently released some intriguing preliminary findings.

The NASA Twins Study uses the relatively new field of omics – the study of a large number of systems in the human body at a molecular level. Initial findings involved telomeres – often described as the "ticking clock of the cell”. Telomeres are DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes – protecting them from degrading. As we age, the telomeres get shorter and shorter.

The study found that telomeres in white blood cells get longer in space. This was potentially thought to be due to the increased exercise regime and strict diet that Scott followed, but perhaps Einstein’s time dilation effect could be playing a part in astronauts ageing slower. Despite this, markers of inflammation in the blood increased in space and after landing back on Earth, which could have been caused by the physical stress placed on Scott’s body during re-entry and landing.

 

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