Elephants may hold the key to curing cancer, researchers claim

ELEPHANTS hold the key to the fight against cancer, researchers suggest.

They are five times less likely to die from it than humans, even though they have many more cells that can mutate into tumors.

Researchers say elephants may be the key to the fight against cancer

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Researchers say elephants may be the key to the fight against cancerCredit: Alamy

The giant mammals benefit from having 40 copies of a cancer-killing gene known as p53. Man only has two.

The gene can stop working in certain cases, but experts from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh have discovered how an elephant’s extra DNA prevents this.

They found that each set of p53 is slightly different, making it much less likely to be deactivated in elephants.

Prof Fritz Vollrath of Oxford, a Trustee of Save the Elephants, said: “This shows how important it is that we not only conserve these distinctive animals, but also study them in minute detail.”

“After all, their genetics and physiology are all determined by evolutionary history as well as contemporary ecology, diet and behavior.”

The findings are being published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution and could help point the way to better cancer prevention.

Fellow researcher Professor Robin Fåhraeus from France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris said: ‘This is an exciting development in our understanding of how p53 helps prevent cancer development.

“In humans, the same p53 protein is responsible for deciding whether cell proliferation should stop or whether it should go into apoptosis [death] but how p53 makes this decision was difficult to explain.

“The existence of multiple p53 types in elephants with different abilities…provides an exciting new approach to shed new light on its tumor suppressor activity.”

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5792101/elephants-cancer-gene-scientists-claim/ Elephants may hold the key to curing cancer, researchers claim

Sarah Y. Kim

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