“We cure cancer in animals all the time, but not in people.” –Fran Visco
Mutation won’t make you Wolverine but it might get you a disease-Cancer. While Spain was holding the FIFA champions trophy in South Africa, 7.98 million people died because of cancer worldwide in 2010. Numerous research is conducted around the globe to cure cancer. Death rate cut down by 25% since 1991 but no permanent solution is formulated yet. Scientists are now looking into animals to cure cancer.
Cancer is abnormal growth of our body unit Cell. A grown human body has trillions of cells with 200 variants. But these trillions are the result of the continuous division of a single cell. Cancer is the mistake in this continuous cell division of the perfect architecture. Humans are more affected by cancer than animals which led toward a new study among elephants.
“If we lived long enough, sooner or later we all would get cancer.”-Robert Weinberg
Abnormal cell growth should make large animals like blue whale or elephants more vulnerable to cancer. As they are bigger in size and live longer means they have way more cells than humans. But incidents of cancer among larger long-living animals fewer observed by Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford.
Signs for Science
The reason behind lower rate of cancer among big animals like elephants possesses cancer suppression mechanisms. Joshua Schiffman at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Carlo Maley at Arizona State University led a team of researchers. The outcome turns to be 20 extra duplicates of a tumor suppressor gene p53. This gene later translated into tumor protein p53.p53 has many mechanisms of anticancer function. Another member of the project Lisa M. Abegglen works as a cell biologist at the Utah School of Medicine.She is doing further study on p53 to look for more or different functions of those extra pairs of p53 genes.
Suicide of Cells
Vincent Lynch is a geneticist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. He discovered superior mechanisms among elephants and related animals with a smaller body like hyraxes, armadillos, and aardvarks. LIF gene is a leukemia inhibitory factor. Leukemia is a group cancer affect bone marrow and results in abnormal blood(white) cells. But most of these remain inactive during observation. Further research in cellular level considering LIF opened a path or mechanism. One of the duplicates termed LIF6 showed some functions. LIF6 helps to remove defected cells from the body by a process called apoptosis. Apoptosis means cell suicide which often done to eradicate harmful cells from the body. Lynch sorted out the history of LIF genes showed extinction of duplicate genes with time.
Previous works proof the relation between p53 and LIF gene. Both of them work as anticancer activities but also regulate the efficiency of reproduction. What if extinct species lost with time because of increased mutations of these genes!
“There’s a bunch of toxic pseudogenes sitting there If they get inappropriately expressed, it’s basically game over.”-Vincent Lynch
Carlo Maley is now looking into other large animals like whales to get results from the evolution of nature.
“There’s a bunch of discoveries that are just waiting for us out there in nature, where nature is showing us the way to prevent cancer.”
Source: Quanta magazine