Cancer Cure: Could Sharks Treat The Disease?

A new study of shark DNA reveals that the sea giants could be a possible lead in cancer cure. However, scientists do not promote consuming shark meat, for some parts of the shark may rather harm human health. Shark meat is known to have high levels of mercury.

Research scientists at Nova Southeastern University and Cornell University, investigated on the genetics of great white and great hammerhead sharks. This is for the study on why the sharks could heal wounds quickly and on why they are resistant to cancer. Shark’s ability to heal open wounds within hours is due to its immune systems, fine-tuned over 400 million years of evolution. A recent study in the journal BMC Genomics, shows the first evidence that shark genes have undergone evolutionary changes.

Mahmood Shivji, director of NSU’s Save Our Seas Shark Research Center and Guy Harvey Research Institute in Fort Lauderdale said that the sharks’ immune system have been proven to be extraordinary and has evolved over hundreds of million of years. These could possibly contribute in searching for the key in cancer cure. By using genomics approaches, to understanding their immunity, genesis scientist could come up with data that will help discover cancer cure. If a shark got wounded, it could be healed by a group of cells that covers the wound faster than any mammals could.

There are two shark genes that stood out. Both genes have a counterpart in humans, nevertheless over replication of these cells could lead to cancer. On the contrary, for sharks, those genes are naturally tumor preventive. According to the USA Today, one gene codes for a protein that in humans helps inhibit an essential natural process called programmed cell death.

In some instances cells have to stop dividing and die, which is a good thing. Because over replication of the genes inhibits normal programmed cell death, setting the stage for cancer. Research shows that compounds from shark tissues can inhibit growth of new blood vessels in tumors. According to the Phys Org, researchers found that several of the infection immunity-related genes were expressed only in the sharks and rays. These unique abilities and characteristics of sharks could contribute to the search of cancer cure.

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