CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- An East Chapel Hill High School student's work is on its way to the International Space Station.
Pristine Onuoha developed an experiment to measure telomeres--sections of DNA that protect our chromosomes from damage. Telomeres shorten as we get older, which has been linked with age-related diseases. Onuoha's experiment could help uncover why telomeres get longer during space flight. Ultimately, a breakthrough in this field could be used to prevent or treat age-related diseases.
"I thought that if we can understand how and why astronauts age differently in space, that it could have implications for health care here on Earth," Onuoha said. "The experiment also has the potential to help research involved in detecting genetic deletions or insertions in organisms in space, which is beneficial since being in space is known to accelerate one's risk for developing genetic mutations."
Onuoha won the national Genes in Space STEM competition in 2022. That victory led to her research getting more attention and the opportunity to head up to the International Space Station.
The rocket carrying her experiment launched June 5 and is expected to dock at the ISS on June 5.
To learn more about Onuoha and her research, check out this profile from our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer.