Great White Shark DNA Could Hold the Secret to Curing Cancer and Age related Illness
The first map of great whites sharks’ DNA has revealed “mutations” that protect the animals against cancer and other illnesses.
Scientists hope that more research could help apply the findings to treating age-related illnesses in humans, as the great white’s ability to repair its own DNA has evolved in ways ours hasn’t. Unstable genes in humans are what make us vulnerable to aged-related diseases such as cancer
The research was carried out by a team of scientists at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre at Nova South-eastern University in Florida.
Because sharks have been around and at the top of their game for so long, they have evolved so their DNA can repair itself and is more tolerant to damage.
“Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases,” says study co-leader Dr Mahmood Shivji.
“Now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these large-bodied, long-lived sharks.
“There’s still tonnes to be learned from these evolutionary marvels, including information that will potentially be useful to fight cancer and age-related diseases, and improve wound-healing treatments in humans, as we uncover how these animals do it.”
Shark DNA is one-and-a-half times bigger than human DNA, meaning there are things coded into the animals that, at the moment, humans can’t do. Scientists hope to unlock those secrets and use them to treat the problems that DNA is already solving in sharks. They believe sharks could also help wound-healing and blood-clotting, because of their ability to recover quickly from serious injuries.
This research could be a step towards a more positive reputation for one of the most feared animals in nature.