OmicsSpace: A Proposed Omics Data Plan for NASA Human Research and Clinical Investigations
Haas, Christopher T
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Genetic mutations can be introduced during one’s lifetime through errors in DNA processing or as the result of environmental exposures. Astronauts can experience numerous environmental changes during spaceflight including exposure to solar and cosmic radiation, circadian rhythm shifts, body fluid shifts, altered levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen, and changes in ambient pressure. It is unknown at this point as to whether spaceflight can cause permanent changes to our genes and how they are expressed. The answer likely depends on each astronaut’s genetic background and what mission(s) the astronaut has flown. The field of omics allows us to look closely at one’s DNA sequence as well as the modification of gene expression and downstream metabolic pathways. Astronaut omics analyses may take us one step closer to understanding how the blueprint for our cellular machinery and the translation of this blueprint can change over time. Through advancement of omics technologies and analytical methods, we are becoming more proficient at customizing treatment for select diseases and may even have opportunities to customize preventative measures in the future. I plan to propose a program plan for how NASA could capture operationally relevant omics data from astronaut experiments over time. The program plan will contain recommendations on how to scope a genetic repository in the future at NASA that can be used for future research, occupational surveillance to help identify clinical issues related to the spaceflight environment, and management of astronaut health.