The DNA editing method was used for the first time on the ISS

Onboard the International Space Station (ISS)CRISPR-Cas9 technology was first used for DNA editing. Fortunately or unfortunately, the experiment was conducted not with people, but with brewer's yeast. His goal was to create super supercosmic yeast. The task was to understand how the mechanisms of DNA recovery in space work, according to the portal Science Alert.

Brewer's yeast is not for beer

During the experiment, the threads of the fungal genetic code were cut in several places to simulate radiation damage.

"DNA damage actually occurs onthe ISS, therefore the analysis of these damages was also carried out in space. We want to understand whether the mechanisms for DNA recovery in space and on Earth are different and how different they are, ”commented Emily Gison of miniPCR Bio, who developed a DNA laboratory for the ISS.

Cosmos is really very, and the radiation it contains is one of the biggest problems. Despite being at an altitude of about 408 kilometers, the ISS is still protected by the Earth’s magnetic field, for six months the astronauts, on average, undergo about 30 times more radiation on board the station than a person on Earth a year. It is well known that cosmic radiation exposes the ISS astronauts to the risk of developing radiation sickness, and also increases the long-term risk of developing cancer, degenerative diseases, and central nervous system problems.

For a mission to mars that will be much longerthan six months spent outside the protective magnetic layer of the Earth, the radiation hazard increases. Therefore, figuring out how DNA is restored from radiation damage can be incredibly helpful.

An experiment with yeast DNA editing onaboard the ISS was conducted by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague. Then they were left alone to allow time for independent DNA repair. Comparing the molecular structure of yeast DNA before and after this recovery-damage cycle would allow observing changes in the molecular structure and highlighting any possible genetic errors.

To compare the results, Koch and Haig conductedmultiple copying of restored DNA chains using the polymerase chain reaction method inside a portable thermal cycler developed by miniPCR. Then for DNA sequencing, they used a second MinION device.

Data on the results of this experiment have not been published anywhere else, but they can indicate whether DNA damage has been repaired and whether any genetic errors have been corrected or not.

DNA editing will solve the problem of traveling to deep space

According to scientists, in the future, this knowledge can be used to help protect astronauts from DNA damage caused by cosmic radiation on long-distance travels.

“Yes, first, this study will tell usis it possible in principle to do such things in space. Ideally, we will be able to use this data to develop the necessary methods to protect astronauts from DNA damage due to long space flights, providing the ability to edit the genome in space, ”concluded Gleason.

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