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Cancer Cure 2019: How Great White Shark Can Lead to Cancer Cure

This image shows an osteosarcoma cell with DNA in blue, energy factories (mitochondria) in yellow and actin filaments, part of the cellular skeleton, in purple. | Photo credit: Dylan Burnette and Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health (Public Domain) via Flickr.com

Cancer is one of the most harrowing diseases a person can be diagnosed with simply because there is no complete cure found for it yet. However, a recently published research suggests that the usually feared great white sharks might be able to help humans with this problem.

A group of researchers has finally decoded the great white shark genome, as reported by EurekAlert. And it revealed a lot of new information not just about this marine creature but also for advancing medicine for humans. It could help scientists understand how animals like the great whites protect itself from getting cancer.

“Decoding the white shark genome is providing scientists with a new set of keys to unlock lingering mysteries about these feared and misunderstood predators,” research co-author Dr. Salvador Jorgensen, Senior Research Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, explained. “Why sharks have thrived for some 500 million years, longer than almost any vertebrate on earth.”

It was learned that the great white shark's genome has its own defense mechanisms and its own process for maintaining stability allowing it to “thrive” from big wounds and diseases like cancer. Scientists found “adaptive sequence changes” allowing for DNA and cell repair on great whites.

“Not only were there a surprisingly high number of genome stability genes that contained these adaptive changes,” Nova Southeastern University’s director for Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center, Dr. Mahmood Shivji said. “But there was also an enrichment of several of these genes, highlighting the importance of this genetic fine-tuning in the white shark.”

If the great white shark’s genome shows amazing ability to maintain stability and regenerate, people with genetic predisposition to cancer and age-related diseases are the opposite. They are reportedly prone to DNA damage leading to genome instability. The further understanding of the great white shark’s genome leads scientists to believe that animals with large bodies, along with its genetic composition, somehow developed an ability to shield itself from diseases like cancer.

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