Detecting DNA mutations in astronaut blood

USA Researchers stored astronaut blood for 20 years to see how short space shuttle flights affect human health.

The team took blood samples from astronauts during space shuttle missions. Photo: NASA

All 14 astronauts in the study from NASA's space shuttle program had DNA mutations in blood-forming stem cells, reported August 31 in the journal Nature Communications Biology . Although the number of mutations is unusually high for the age of astronauts, the number is still well below the threshold of concern.

The researchers suggest that astronauts should have their blood tested periodically to monitor for possible mutations. The tracking program is important because NASA is aiming for a long-term mission in deep space through the Artemis program on the Moon and Mars exploration.

Lead researcher David Goukassian, professor of cardiology at Icahn Mount Sinai, said the new research builds on growing interest in commercial spaceflight and deep space exploration, as well as potential health risks. when exposed to many harmful factors associated with long-term space missions.

The researchers collected blood samples from the group of astronauts twice, first 10 days before the flight and again on the day of landing. They also collected white blood cells 3 days after landing. The blood sample was then kept intact in the freezer for 20 years, kept at -80 degrees Celsius. They found a higher frequency of somatic cell mutations in the genes of the 14 astronauts in the study compared with the statistical data. about people who have flown into space. The crew flew circa 1998 - 2001 on space shuttle missions that were on average 12 days long. About 85% of the group were men and the six astronauts took part in the first mission.

However, the somatic cell mutation in the gene is less than 2%. Individuals who cross that threshold are likely to face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. "The existence of mutations does not necessarily mean that astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer, but rather that these are at risk through continued exposure to the extremes of deep space." , Goukassian said.

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