Shark genes may be humanity's answer to cancer prevention and rapid healing of wounds. A recent genomic study on Shark DNA, concentrating on the Great White and Hammerhead sharks, revealed that their immunity genes are the reason behind the aquatic predators' rapid healing and higher resistance to cancer.
Unique modifications in sharks, along with rays' immunity genes (which have undergone 400 million years of evolution) are suspected to be the reason for its greater cancer resistance.
The study was conducted by the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) in collaboration with Save Our Seas Shark Research Center and Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI).
Nicholas J. Marra, a postdoctoral associate, is the lead author of this study. Michael J. Stanhope and Mahmood S. Shivji are the co-corresponding authors of the study.
"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," said Shivji, who is also the director of NSU's Save Our Seas Shark Research Center.
Study Found Immunity Genes Related To Cancer
Two shark genes — Bag1 and legumain — were found to stand out among others. The counterparts of both the genes are found in humans as well, and their overexpression is related to an array of cancers. These genes in sharks have undergone evolution and have been modified over time.
Shivji went on to say that lab studies on compounds derived from sharks have exhibited anti-tumor properties. However, Shivji also stresses that consuming shark parts will not prevent or cure cancer, but will more likely damage one's health due to high levels of mercury in the marine creature's anatomy.
Although the belief that rays and sharks are resistant to cancer needs scientific approval, the study does reveal that Bag1 and legumain genes do have the likelihood of protecting the animals from getting cancer.
Genes Related To Rapid Wound Healing Also Revealed In Research
The shark DNA also provided answers to the rapid healing puzzle in sharks despite staying in seawater containing various types of bacteria. Further research showed that shark and rays not only have higher amount of antibody-mediated immunity, but also contain several immunity genes related to infection as well.
Stanhope states that the presence of high amount of antibody immunity genes could be the answer behind sharks' rapid wound healing and infection-fighting skill.
The study was published in journal BMC Genomics.
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