Tags: Cancer | elephants | rarely | cancer | tumor | suppressor | genes

Why Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

Why Elephants Rarely Get Cancer
(Copyright AP)

By    |   Thursday, 08 October 2015 01:31 PM


There’s a myth that sharks don’t get cancer (sometimes they do!) but what really battles scientists is why elephants rarely develop the disease, and now scientists think they have the answer.

Elephants are considered a walking conundrum. Because they have 100 times as many cells as people, they should be 100 times more likely to have a cell slip into a cancerous state and trigger the disease over their long life span of 50 to 70 years. And yet it's believed that elephants get cancer less often, a theory this study confirms.

The answer turns out to be two-fold; first, elephants have 38 additional versions of a gene that acts as a tumor suppressor in humans as well, and second, their cells apparently have twice the cancer-fighting power as those humans possess.

Huntsman Cancer Institute researchers performed the study in conjunction with a team from Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation using blood samples from the animals taken during wellness checks and subjecting the cells to treatments that damage DNA, which trigger cancer.

Nature has already figured out how to prevent cancer. It's up to us to learn how different animals tackle the problem so we can adapt those strategies to prevent cancer in people," said Huntsman researcher and co-author Joshua Schiffman, M.D.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)



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There's a myth that sharks don't get cancer (sometimes they do!) but what really battles scientists is why elephants rarely develop the disease, and now scientists think they have the answer. Elephants are considered a walking conundrum. Because they have 100 times as many...
elephants, rarely, cancer, tumor, suppressor, genes
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2015-31-08
Thursday, 08 October 2015 01:31 PM
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