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Mitigating Radiation for Mars Travel

Gene therapy could help astronauts withstand the dose of radiation they would receive while flying in space between Earth and Mars, the Guardian writes.

It reports that researchers from Insilico Medicine and elsewhere have developed a plan to use advances in gene therapy and drug development to personalized drugs for astronauts to beef up their defenses. The Guardian notes that the NASA has set the lifetime radiation cap for astronauts at between 800 mSv and 1200 mSv, and that a Mars trip is estimated to be a 600-mSv dose.

Insilico's Alex Zhavoronkov and his colleagues write in the journal Oncotarget that research conducted into radiobiology, biogerontology, and artificial intelligence could be combined and harnessed to develop protection against radiation. "We outline future research directions toward the goal of enhancing human radioresistance, including upregulation of endogenous repair and radioprotective mechanisms, possible leeways into gene therapy in order to enhance radioresistance," the researchers write.

The Guardian adds that other researchers have also noted anti-aging and DNA repair research could be used to help astronauts. For instance, tardigrades and other species harbor DNA protection genes that limit the effect of X-rays when added to human cells, the paper adds.