14 astronauts with mutations in their DNA

Researchers examined decades-old blood samples from 14 NASA astronauts who flew on space shuttle missions between 1998 and 2001. They found that samples from all 14 astronauts showed mutations in their DNA. Futurism he says:


While these mutations are likely low enough not to pose a serious threat to astronauts' long-term health, the research underscores the importance of regular health checks for astronauts, especially as they embark on longer missions in the coming years.

The specific mutations, as identified in a new study published in magazine Nature Communications Biology, were characterized by a high percentage of blood cells derived from a single clone, a phenomenon called clonal hematopoiesis. Mutations like this can be caused by exposure to too much UV radiation or other forms of radiation, including chemotherapy. In this case, researchers suspect it may have been the result of exposure to space radiation.

"Astronauts work in an extreme environment where many factors can lead to somatic mutations, most notably space radiation, which means there is a risk that these mutations could develop into clonal hematopoiesis," said lead author David Goukassian, professor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a statement.

Blood samples for this latest study were collected from 12 male and two female astronauts ten days before their flight and on the day of their landing. The samples were then cryogenically stored at -44°C for approximately two decades. The mutations seen in the blood samples look like the kind of bodily mutations we see in older people – which is interesting in itself, given that the average age of the astronauts was 42.

"Although the clonal hematopoiesis we observed was relatively small in magnitude, the fact that we observed these mutations was surprising given the relatively young age and health of these astronauts," Reported the Goukassian.

"The presence of these mutations does not necessarily mean that astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer," he added, "but there is a risk that, over time, this could occur through continuous and prolonged exposure to the extreme environment of deep space.”

So Goukassian and his team recommend that NASA regularly screen astronauts for these types of mutations.

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Written by giorgos

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