British biologist Richard Peto noticed an unusual paradox – if the chance of a single cell in the body becoming cancerous is the same across all animals, then larger, longer-lived species, such as elephants, should develop many more cancers than humans, as their bodies contain many more cells.
Yet…elephants hardly ever get cancer, and in 2015 dr. Josh Schiffman and his team at the University of Utah discovered – why.
By studying DNA from elephants in Utah’s Zoo, they found that the animals have extra copies of one gene (p53 – or so called guardian gene) in their DNA. The extra dose of that p53 gives them a strong protection against cancer, ensuring that any damaged cell will die rather than continue to multiply and form tumours.
Another animal that is resistant to cancer is this beauty – the naked mole rat. They are living in the African desert.
They’ve got even more protection from the cancer with a gene, called ‘hyaluronan synthase2’, that acts as a kind of cellular glue, preventing any cancer cells from spreading throughout the mole’s body.
The scientist says that there’s still a long way to go before we can really cure cancer…and the reason why – lies in our human genes. Are we doomed?
Info from the book of Kat Arney ‘How to code a human?’
Images – Google