Why Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

Elephants rarely get cancer, but until the recently published results of a scientific study, we didn’t really know why.

A number of researchers collaborated for the study, lead by scientists from the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Researchers found that elephants have 38 additional modified copies of a gene that encodes p53, which acts as a tumor suppressor. Humans have only two copies of p53.

Elephants’ bodies are also better at doing away with damaged cells that are at risk of becoming cancerous.

“Nature has already figured out how to prevent cancer. It’s up to us to learn how different animals tackle the problem so we can adapt those strategies to prevent cancer in people,” said co-senior author Joshua Schiffman, a pediatric oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Primary Children’s Hospital, in a statement.


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