Astronaut's Genes Changed After Year in Space

U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly's gene expression changed after spending a year in space and is no longer the same as his identical twin Mark, researchers say.

Gene expression refers to how genes function within cells. Seven percent of Scott's gene expression did not return to baseline after he returned from the International Space Stations two years ago, CNN reported.

The preliminary findings are from NASA's Twins Study, which is comparing Scott to Mark, who remained on Earth.

Despite the changes in Scott's gene expression, he and Mark are still identical twins. However, the findings from Scott indicate longer-term changes associated with at least five biological pathways and functions, CNN reported.

Astronauts typically spend six months on the space station. The Twins Study is expected to help NASA gain a better understanding of what happens to the human body during long-term space missions, such as the planned three-year mission to Mars.

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