A new study has used DNA testing in hopes of discovering a potential cure for cancer.
What is surprising, however, is that the research wasn’t conducted on humans, but instead used sharks found off of the coast of Greenland.
The study consisted of closely monitoring two different species, the Great White Shark and the Hammerhead Shark. The aim was to figure out how their immunity to different diseases has evolved so that they could connect their potential findings to the human genome.
Scientists were originally drawn to the King of the Sea because research has shown that these animals have been around for over 400 million years. But more importantly, they noticed that a shark’s open wound can heal itself within hours, which potentially helps the species fight off cancer.
Researchers from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and Cornell University in New York studied these sharks and found that once their skin is punctured, a layer of cells begins to grow over the wound. This happens incredibly fast and is incomparable to the healing properties of mammals. While this is the first evidence found that suggests shark immunity is tied to evolutionary changes, these findings can potentially help cancer researchers find a solution in the human body.
Mahmood Shivji, director of NSY’s Save Our Seas Shark Research Center explains, “The immune system of sharks and rays has been battle-tested and evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Using genomics approaches to understanding their immunity genesis is likely to produce many more exciting discoveries, some of which could potentially translate into human medical benefit.”
Two shark genes stood out to researchers, as they have counterparts in humans and are linked to cancer. The sharks actually evolved the gene into tumor preventatives, meaning the shark tissues prevent growth of blood vessels on tumors.
For now, scientists will have to wait and see to see if these discoveries can be used to prevent cancer in humans. But, according to a poll done by Newsmax Health, doctors believe there are some simple ways to possibly prevent cancer. They are:
- Manage stress. Stress can weaken the immune system, which is the number one defense against cancer.
- Limit sun exposure and refrain from smoking.
- Check toxins in the home. The Surgeon General has warned the nation that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, so always make sure you get your home tested for this odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas.
Will sharks actually be the key to strengthening our DNA and preventing cancer? More research will need to be done, but these scientists seem optimistic.