By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – While Professor Susan Bailey was on Spring Break from Colorado State University she was shocked to find out headlines were circulating the globe that astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA had actually changed in space.
“It was news to all of us too,” laughed Bailey. “I think it was a very innocent comment. an innocent tweet that just exploded. it really caught people’s attention and imagination.”
On March 10th Kelly tweeted out an article saying his DNA had changed. He was even surprised.
Bailey is the lead researcher on Kelly’s year in space with regards to DNA. She says things got blown out of proportion.
“It wasn’t so much changes in the DNA, it was changes in gene expressions so the actual proteins that get expressed from those changes. There’s always a lot of variation in gene expression. Endurance exercise, for example, can change gene expression and that can change every day for all of us,” Bailey said.
Seven percent of those gene expressions didn’t return to normal after Kelly returned to earth, but that research was put out by Bailey and her team more than a year ago.
“The things that did change, a lot of it went back to normal. That’s really good news,” the associate professor at the Department of Environmental and Radiological Sciences at CSU said.
Bailey says her research, and nine other studies, aren’t finalized yet and should be released from NASA later this year.
“It’s really just the beginning of finding out what space flight does to people,” she said. “We’re still trying to figure out what that means and what caused it and if there’s any kind of long-term health risk associated with that.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.