Twin Study to Explore Genetic Aspects of Space Health

Twin studies are the Holy Grail of medical research, but in some fields its very rare to find qualifying sets of siblings. Two astronaut twins (imagine the odds!) are giving scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine the opportunity to study the genetic aspects of human health outcomes in outer space.

dn23999-2_300New Scientist:

“We have the best ground control you could dream of,” says Graham Scott of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who is helping NASA with the experiment. The question of space health is especially timely as several human trips to Mars are currently being discussed.

Last year, Scott Kelly was chosen to take part in the first one-year mission aboard the ISS, double the usual stay, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Then last week NASA announced a twist: his brother Mark will be monitored on Earth throughout.

John Charles, chief scientist of NASA’s human research programme, says the brothers came up with the idea: “I was discussing plans with Scott and he said, ‘how about the twins angle?’ ”

Researchers will have access to blood and saliva samples from both twins taken before, during and after Scott’s trip to the ISS, along with assessments of their vision, sleep patterns and cardiovascular activity. NASA will also measure both twins’ bone mass before and after the mission.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Notice the assymetrical flattening of Mark’s left hemispherical facial features? Kept him in the test tube too long.

    • Anarchy Pony

      Like Qubert Farnsworth.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Caught that one quickly, you did!

        • Anarchy Pony

          “I left him in his first tube too long and he got smooshed up against the side.”

  • adam

    but imagine they meet aliens, they ll think all humans looks like these guys!

  • flipdog

    I wonder how they’ll interpret anything that looks odd? I’m getting more and more convinced that whatever it is that genes do, it isn’t to crack a whip over us and determine how we will live our lives. There is a two-way exchange in the relationship, at the very least.

    Edited to allow for the fact that I thought they were both going into space when I first commented. Teach me to read the articles properly.