Elephant Genes Could Hold Key to Cancer Cure

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Jumbo’s Cancer Medicine

Scientists from the University of Chicago have figured out that elephants carry 20 copies of tumour or cancer suppressing gene p53. Humans in comparison carry only one copy of p53.

The discovery has raised hopes among scientists for tackling one of the deadliest diseases confronting mankind. p53 gene helps damaged cells repair themselves or self-destruct when exposed to cancer causing substances. Scientists during the study also figured out that when the same genes were activated in mice, they developed the same cancer resistance as elephants, suggesting that this method could be used to block the spread of cancer.

Elephants unlike man have many more cells, but they have comparatively low cancer rates. Scientists in order to test the viability of elephants in combating cancer, took samples of their white blood cells. Thereafter they exposed these cells to treatments that damage DNA. Following this, the p53 cells self destructed at twice the rate of human cells. The worthiness of these cells however would not lead to any immediate medicine for treating cancer in humans.

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