Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Elephants rarely get cancer because their bodies have a rare 'zombie gene'

Elephants are virtually the last mammals that have the LIF6 gene. It has died in almost every other animal, but still operates in elephants and might be able to help us find a cure to cancer. Elephants rarely every get cancerous diseases, and scientists are starting to contribute it to the fact that elephants have 20 copies of the p53 gene to turn on the LIF6 gene, whereas humans only have one so we might not have enough power to flip the LIF6 gene back on. In the study, scientists focused on refunctionalizing the LIF6 gene, which is a leukemia inhibitory factor with apoptotic  functions. Lynch and his team were originally studying the p53 gene in elephants, but found that the LIF6 gene evolved to create a new "on" switch, which enables the gene when it is exposed to other dead cells. The study concluded that once the LIF6 gene is activated by p53, it kills the cell fairly quickly and produces a protein that destroys the cell's mitochondria and kills the cell. Then the LIF6 gene was blocked in elephants in the study, the diseased cells quickly became cancerous. When the LIF6 gene was introduced to mice that didn't have the gene or just didn't have it activated, they became cancer resistant.
This study has made a huge step toward cancer research, and I hope they continue with their experiments. If scientists can prove that replacing the gene in mice does not give any long term effects, then maybe we could start using it in humans. Getting rid of cancer would be a huge accomplishment in today's world and would help so many people and families. Even if this turns out to be a temporary fix, it could give so many people a longer time to live and create better lives for people. I'm sure many people in the world would be willing to donate money to fund this research, I just wish it was a little more accessible. This article wasn't available until the second page on Fox News, but it seems like a really important story and should be pretty popular.


1 comment:

  1. This article was a really interesting read! I didn't know about the LIF6 gene before I read the article, so it's a really significant discovery. It seems like the gene has a lot of potential for addressing the widespread issue of cancer. Even if they find that it's not a permanent fix or a safe long-term solution, I hope that it inspires others to examine new approaches to cancer treatment too. I've read a lot of articles about proteins and genes being studied for their potential uses, such as using peptides to fight infections instead of antibiotics. I feel like these types of things have been drawing more attention in recent years, which is good due to their amount of potential.