According to researchers, elephants are cancer-battling super creatures that destroy damaged cells before they are able to develop into cancerous cells.
A study was released that asserts that elephant genes may provide a crucial clue in the fight against cancer.
Scientists have been bewildered by the fact that elephants rarely get cancer.
It is especially interesting because elephants have 100 times as many cells as humans. Elephants should be 100 times more likely to have a cell develop into a cancerous state and trigger the disease over their long life span of 50 to 70 years.
Regardless, the cancer mortality rate for elephants is le than 5% while the cancer mortality rate for people is 25%.
For the study, researchers analyzed elephant DNA and found a few deviations. Elephants have extra genes that stop tumors before they are even able to form.
Elephants have at a minimum, 40 copies of genes that code for p53. P53 is a protein that is well known for its cancer-inhibiting properties. Conversely, humans only have two copies of p53.
If the damaged cell is killed, it can’t turn into cancer. This may be a more effective approach to cancer prevention then trying to stop a mutated cell from dividing and not be able to completely repair itself.
Scientists believe that that elephants should be developing a tremendous amount of cancer and should in fact be extinct by now. However, the ability to produce more p53 is nature’s way of keeping the species alive.
Although there are other contributing factors that put people more at risk of getting cancer, the study proves important insight on treatment.
Nature has determined a method to prevent cancer. Now it is up to researchers to learn how different animals tackle the problem so they can adapt those strategies to prevent cancer in people.