Astronaut DNA No Longer Matches that of His Twin’

scott kelly and mark kelly in blue suits

Due to the changes to his astronaut DNA, Scott Kelly no longer genetically resembles his twin, Mark.

Astronaut Scott Kelly is well known, among others, for his having spent a year  on the International Space Station (ISS). His identical twin, Mark Kelly, stayed on Earth. After 340 days, Scott came back from space, and according to NASA, he was a completely changed man. The agency also meant this very literally.

It seems that about 7% of his genes were altered during his stay on the ISS. This means that his DNA no longer matches that of his identical twin brother. This was indeed a shocking change, as nobody expected such a drastic transformation.

Recently, Scott Kelly shared his own amazement when he found out about his altered DNA. He revealed that he didn’t know anything about NASA’s twin study and that he found the results from an article. Scott also joked that he no longer has to call Mark Kelly his identical twin brother.

It’s worth noting that some of the changes to his astronaut DNA, like the shortening of the endcaps of chromosomes or the lengthening of his telomeres, came back to normal once he reached Earth. These changes reversed because he was once again subjected to our planet’s gravity. However, some other changes were still present even six months later.


Scott Kelly’s DNA Changed While He Stayed in Space


According to the researchers who conducted this interesting experiment, Scott experienced an insufficient amount of tissue oxygenation in his cells. His mitochondria were still under stress, and he still had some increased inflammation. Mitochondria help transform nutrients into energy.

Scott Kelly became famous for being the first ever American astronaut to spend an entire year in space. He returned from his incredible journey in March 2016. Now, NASA says that the Twins Study, as it called it, might prove very useful in the development of new treatments. Especially when it comes to similar health issues that happen here on Earth. The researchers see it as a test of nurture against nature.


Image source: Wikimedia

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