Can Shark DNA Help Cure Cancer?

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Aiden Kelley

Sharks end up getting a bad reputation for their roles in movies, menacing appearances, and very rare attacks. They are basically a necessity to our ocean ecosystems by helping keep their preys’ population under control. Sharks could possibly play another role in helping us out when it comes to human medicine.

The study was conducted by the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, which, through DNA mapping, showed that shark DNA has evolved in a way that human DNA has not. It has the ability to repair itself, which is speculated as being the reason sharks are able to block certain mutations that humans can’t by scientists.

The result of these mutations include sharks being able to heal wounds quickly, being resistant to the harmful bacteria in the oceans, and having a higher resistance to cancer than humans.

A shark’s strand of DNA is about one and a half times longer than a human’s strand. Instead of having twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, like a human, a shark has 41 pairs of chromosomes. This is what allows the shark to maintain gene stability.¬†Unstable genes are the results of DNA damage, which is what’s known to cause cancer and other age-related diseases.

“Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases,” said Dr Mahmood Shivji, who co-led the study, “now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these sharks.”

“People need to understand the importance of curing cancer in any way possible,” said Hana Johnson, “anything that we can do to help those that are sick is worth trying.”