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December 25, 2015 8:42 am

Israeli Scientists Find Clue to Cancer Prevention, Cure in Elephants

avatar by David Daoud

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Elephants in a national park. Israeli researchers have located a protein in the animal that keeps it from getting cancer. Photo: Wikipedia.

Elephants in a national park. Israeli researchers have located a protein in the animal that keeps it from getting cancer. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israeli scientists have discovered a cancer-fighting gene in elephants which could be used to cure the disease in humans, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Thursday.

Avi Schroeder, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, told Channel 10 about the find, explaining that elephants, whose physiology is similar to that of human beings, almost never develop cancer, due to a gene that immunizes them.

Schroeder’s colleague, Dr. Joshua D. Schiffman, a pediatric oncologist from Utah, researched elephant cells and discovered a protein called P-53 — also possessed by humans — that is the source of this immunization.

Schroeder noted that while the P-53 protein in humans and elephants “is completely identical,” there are 19 variants of it found in elephants. It is the variances, he said, which provide elephants with a higher level of protection than humans. And the key now is utilizing the properties of the “elephant” protein to immunize humans from the disease.

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