Scientists Found Genetic Mutations In Every Astronaut Blood Sample They Studied
Saturday September 10, 2022. 12:00 PM , from Slashdot
'Astronauts work in an extreme environment where many factors can result in somatic mutations, most importantly 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 the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a statement. The 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 -112 degrees Fahrenheit for around two decades. The mutations observed in the blood samples resemble the kind of somatic mutations we see in older individuals -- which is interesting on its own, considering the median age of the astronauts was only 42.
'Although the clonal hematopoiesis we observed was of a relatively small size, the fact that we observed these mutations was surprising given the relatively young age and health of these astronauts,' Goukassian said. 'The presence of these mutations does not necessarily mean that the astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer,' he added, 'but there is the risk that, over time, this could happen through ongoing and prolonged exposure to the extreme environment of deep space.' Therefore, Goukassian and his team are recommending that NASA should regularly screen astronauts for these kinds of mutations.
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