“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. It’s as if the elephants said, ‘It’s so important that we don’t get cancer, we’re going to kill this cell and start over fresh. If you kill the damaged cell, it’s gone, and it can’t turn into cancer. This may be more effective of an approach to cancer prevention than trying to stop a mutated cell from dividing and not being able to completely repair itself.”Despite having 100 times more cells, elephant cancer mortality is less than 5%, compared to 11-25% in humans. Over time, evolution has duplicated the original p53 gene and provided them with increased resistance. This may be something we can replicate and learn from; in the future we could conceivably engineer our genome to optimise protection. Elephants aren’t the only organism we can learn cancer secrets from, as other animals like the bowhead whale and the naked mole rat are also remarkably resistant. p53 isn’t the only piece in the puzzle, but it’s another important insight. Read more at ScienceDaily
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