STATES CHRONICLE – It appears elephants have anti-cancer genes, new study informs after researchers have compared death rates among elephant populations in various reservations around the globe. These mammals’ resistance against cancer cells is the result of the TP53 gene, scientists have explained.
Elephants are known to be incredibly large exemplars that have a very big memory. Their large dimensions could mistakenly lead researchers into thinking that elephants are also ill-prone species and, yet, recent studies have proven the opposite.
Past research has revealed a strong connection between the size of an animal and its tendency to develop certain diseases. Large mammals are sensitive to cancer because they easily grow mutant cells. Surprisingly, elephants do not fall into this category. Only 4.8% elephants died of cancer, in spite of their exceeding dimensions.
This discovery has further inspired researchers to make investigations and, hopefully, solve the mystery. They have, thus, discovered that elephants have an anti-cancer gene called TP53 that can work wonders against tumor cells.
The 20 versions of TP53 genes that may be found in an elephant’s body work to release a tumor-suppressant protein. Due to its efficiency against cancer cells, medical experts have named this protein the “guardian of the genome”.
Before you rush into your medic’s office and ask him to have your TP53 cells increased, there is one last thing you should know. Humans have only one variant of TP53 proteins. The good news is that this gene can be modified and manipulated to guard humans against cancer cells, but the bad news is that the gene will not be as effective in humans as it is in elephants.
Scientists have taken a close look at the protein to better understand how it functions. They have discovered that TP53 act whenever a DNA damage is spotted. Thus, the protein prevents cells from dividing and it keeps cell suicide or death from happening again.
For the current research, scientists have collected a large database related to the death of 644 elephants in worldwide reservations. When narrowed down strictly to the percentage of cancer-related death, only 3.11% elephants fell into this category. Deaths resulting from unknown causes have also been added, but, the percentage did not go higher than 4.81%.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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