Over the last 60 years, advancements in technology have allowed humans to travel to space without much hassle. A record number of humans went to space this year, thanks to the intense competition and rivalry between budding private space firms in the U.S, as well as new interests and initiatives from Russia and China.
Billionaires raced to become the first civilians in space, while Russia successfully sent a crew of civilian film makers to the International Space Station, and China is building its own space station to rival the ISS.
Despite the advancements, space is still extremely dangerous to humans. Toxic radiation from the sun, and outer space, as well as the stress it puts on the natural processes of the body can be extremely daunting to manage.
Research concerning the impacts of micro-, and zero-gravity have been extremely low until recently. Therefore, our understanding of space and its effects on the human body, especially in the long term has been extremely limited.
Unsurprising, new research has found that the DNA of astronauts who took brief trips to the International Space Station leaked out of their cell’s energy powerhouse.
In a paper published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers have revealed that the blood samples from 14 NASA astronauts, taken after their trips to the ISS, contained free-floating mitochondrial DNA.
The astronauts all took relatively brief space flights varying from five to thirteen days to the International Space Station. The Blood samples were taken 10 days prior to launch and three days after their return to earth.
Mitochondria is part of a cell that generates the cell’s energy and is therefore called the powerhouse. These special portions of the cells contain their own DNA, and when the Mitochondria undergoes stress, the DNA can be released, leading to cellular damage and other problems elsewhere in the person’s body.
Prior research has shown that if the mitochondria stop working normally, it can trigger problems that lead to heart failure.
“It’s a vicious circle: Radiation may induce DNA damage, which may induce oxidative stress, which leads to inflammation, which can lead to DNA damage,” said David Goukassian, lead author of the paper and a professor of cardiology at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York, in a press release.
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