Maybe you should have been an astronaut.

Through whole genome sequencing, you'll discover if you have "space genes" and all kinds of other amazing details about your genetics you can use to live a long, healthy life, whether you dream of going into orbit, or not.

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GENES IN SPACE.

It's true. Leading geneticists and engineers, including experts from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab1, and the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine2, are studying human physiology in extreme environments like space to identify genetic variants that could be beneficial in those extreme environments.

Which genes, specifically? Glad you asked.

We don’t know all the genes and variations that will be important for life in space, but here are some that affect traits of relevance. The really important take-home message is that genes do not rigidly dictate traits, but are responsive to environmental input and variation. These "Space Genes" are a beginning for understanding how genes interact with the especially extreme environment of space.

LRP5

Variants in the LRP5 gene increase bone density and could counter long-term microgravity exposure that is known to cause spaceflight osteopenia (bone loss).3

MSTN

The MSTN gene leads to unusually large and strong, lean muscle and could offset muscular atrophy that is common in astronauts.4

EPAS1

Studies show that EPAS1 variants carried by Tibetans optimize their bodies for the low air pressure and oxygen levels of high altitude environments which are also typical in space.5

PDE4B

Variants in PDE4B are associated with lower anxiety and higher problem solving capacity, important when considering the solitude and potential feelings of helplessness and resource limitations of life in space.6

DEC2

Variants in DEC2 suggest the capacity to function at high levels with less sleep than the average person, potentially helpful in space given more difficult sleeping conditions.7

APOE, TERT and APP

Long stretches in space will impact how we age but could be offset by variants in multiple genes including APOE, TERT and APP, which contribute to physical and mental longevity.8, 9, 10, 11

TP53

The protective effect associated with a variant in TP53 could help guard against the harmful impact of radiation on DNA and related tissue inflammation.12, 13

NOS3

A variant of the NOS3 gene has been shown to have dramatic anti-inflammatory effects in radiation-induced pneumonitis.12, 14

RESEARCH.

Scientists are only beginning to understand the impact of travel and life in space on the human body. Studying how our genes respond to these extreme environments, will accelerate scientific breakthroughs and could play a key role in helping determine how we can live healthier lives here on earth. In fact, research into the health issues experienced by spacemen and women and their genetic relevance, could hold the answers to sustaining human life beyond our planet; even colonizing Mars. Getting your whole genome sequenced is an easy way to start knowing how you might withstand such challenges. Here's some of what's being looked at so far.


  • Increased demands on the cardiovascular system
  • The effects of different gravitational forces on the nervous system (e.g. balance, gait, nausea, vertigo)
  • Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) on eyesight and performance
  • Immune system response to highly sanitized environments
  • Organ functioning and maintenance of normal blood levels
  • The effects of weightlessness on skeletal system and muscles

MEET RON.

Discovering you have genes that would be helpful when living in space could change the way you see the world. And the way you dress for work.

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HERE ON EARTH.

Thanks to Veritas Genetics, for the first time in medical history, you can now get access to all of the 6 billion letters that make up your DNA and that make you, you. It’s a personal, complete set of instructions to help you live a long and healthy life. In addition to telling you how your genes could help you live on other planets, it can tell you even more about how to live better on this one. For example, Veritas Genetics’ whole genome sequencing could help you understand food allergies, drug sensitivities, potential predispositions to health risk, even point you to the best exercise routines for your particular body. And, because your genome doesn’t change, your whole genome sequence is a lifetime of knowledge to help you benefit from scientific breakthroughs as they happen, or for when you decide to travel through space.

References.

  1. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/
  2. https://www.bcm.edu/centers/space-medicine
  3. Boyden, Lynn M., et al. "High bone density due to a mutation in LDL-receptor–related protein 5." New England Journal of Medicine 346.20 (2002): 1513-1521.
  4. Schuelke, Markus, et al. "Myostatin mutation associated with gross muscle hypertrophy in a child." New England Journal of Medicine 350.26 (2004): 2682-2688.
  5. Beall, Cynthia M., et al. "Natural selection on EPAS1 (HIF2α) associated with low hemoglobin concentration in Tibetan highlanders." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.25 (2010): 11459-11464.
  6. Zhang, Han-Ting, et al. "Anxiogenic-like behavioral phenotype of mice deficient in phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B)." Neuropsychopharmacology 33.7 (2008): 1611-1623.
  7. He, Ying, et al. "The transcriptional repressor DEC2 regulates sleep length in mammals." Science 325.5942 (2009): 866-870.
  8. Blasco, Maria A. "Telomeres and human disease: ageing, cancer and beyond." Nature Reviews Genetics 6.8 (2005): 611-622.
  9. Christensen, Kaare, Thomas E. Johnson, and James W. Vaupel. "The quest for genetic determinants of human longevity: challenges and insights." Nature Reviews Genetics 7.6 (2006): 436-448.
  10. Nebel, Almut, et al. "A genome-wide association study confirms APOE as the major gene influencing survival in long-lived individuals." Mechanisms of ageing and development 132.6 (2011): 324-330.
  11. Jonsson T, et al. "A mutation in APP protects against Alzheimer's disease and age-related cognitive decline." Nature. 2012 Aug 2;488(7409):96-9. doi:10.1038/nature11283. PMID: 22801501
  12. http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/factsheets/pdfs/radiation.pdf
  13. Yang, Ming, et al. "Association of P53 and ATM polymorphisms with risk of radiation-induced pneumonitis in lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy." International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 79.5 (2011): 1402-1407.
  14. Hildebrandt, Michelle AT, et al. "Genetic variants in inflammation-related genes are associated with radiation-induced toxicity following treatment for non-small cell lung cancer." PloS one 5.8 (2010): e12402.