Twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly pose at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on January 19, 2015, before the almost-yearly Scott Kelly on the International Space Station.
Credit: Robert Markowitz
After a stream of media misconceptions about how space flights affect astronaut genes, NASA issued an updated statement on March 15 about its "twins study" of former astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.
The study is following the changes to the body of Scott Kelly after spending almost a year in space between 2015 and 2016. His brother and identical twin Mark remained on Earth during that time and is the subject of control for the study. At the end of January, NASA published an update of the results of 2017 that confirmed most of the initial findings.
"Mark and Scott Kelly are still identical twins, Scott's DNA did not fundamentally change, what the researchers observed were changes in gene expression, which is the way your body reacts to its environment. within the range for humans under stress, such as mountaineering or diving, "NASA said in the recent clarification of the January 31 update. [Twins In Space: Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly in Photos]
The NASA update came after some media wrongly reported that Scott Kelly's DNA had changed.
"The change was related to only 7% of gene expression that changed during space flight that had not returned to pre-verification [levels] after six months on Earth," NASA officials wrote. "This change in gene expression is very minimal, we are at the beginning of our understanding of how spaceflight affects the molecular level of the human body." NASA and the other researchers who collaborate in these studies hope to announce more complete results about twin studies. Summer. "
The brothers joked about media coverage on their Twitter accounts.
"What? My DNA changed by 7% Who knew? I just found out about this in this article" wrote Scott Kelly who joined a Newsweek article in a tweet March 10th. "This could be good news, I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother."
Mark Kelly added his input yesterday (March 15) while linking to a CNN article. "I used to have an identical twin brother, then this happened," he joked. After he tweeted, the CNN article was updated.
What? My DNA changed 7%! Who knows? I just found out about this in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother. https://t.co/6idMFtu7l5
– Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 10, 2018
Several reporters also wrote articles pointing out misinformation spread by other news media.
"The result of NASA is to flip over the expression levels of Scott Kelly, and discovered that, of course, space flights affect the amount of expression of certain genes, particularly those related to immune function, the pathways of DNA repair and bone growth. "Nadia Drake wrote in National Geographic.
"Kelly's DNA base actually did not change by seven percent during its time in space," he said, "its genetic expression – the transcription and translation of genes, not the genes themselves – was what really changed during his year in the space station, "added Miriam Kramer in Mashable.
I used to have an identical twin brother. Then this happened … https://t.co/zQAKU4Nbji
– Mark Kelly (@ShuttleCDRKelly) March 15, 2018
The coverage raid by John Timmer of Ars Technica noted errors in several articles, including a story now edited by Space.com's sister site, Live Science. For that story, he pointed out problems not only with the description of the DNA alteration but with a phrase that said Kelly's genetic code had changed. Timmer said that changing a person's genetic code would really kill them. (Live Science published a follow-up piece today.)
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