Scientists have been studying a whale species known as the bowhead whale and believe this can help them better understand the development of the deadliest disease, cancer. The new study on bowhead whales reveals that these marine mammals can live up to 200 years without developing age-related diseases like cancer.
The scientists believe that the recent discoveries may shed some new light on the secrets of longevity and reversing the process of aging in humans.
The researchers involved in the new study have presented the complete genome of the bowhead whale and were able to identify the differences in comparison to other mammals. The bowhead whales have certain alterations in the cell division and their DNA can repair faster. This can help the scientists study their aging process and what causes them to live longer than other animals. Also, the researchers believe the new data can help them understand why these whales are cancer resistant.
One of the scientists involved in the new study on bowhead whales, Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães, from the University of Liverpool said that the current understanding of the differences in longevity of the species is very poor and the recent findings can be extremely relevant because it provides new candidate genes that will help with further studies.
Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães added that he believes animals have evolved certain tricks in order to prolong their lifespan, and these tricks differ from species to species. He said that these “tricks” that the bowhead whales use can help scientists apply them to humans and fight various age-related diseases like cancer.
The new study revealed that although large whales have 1000 times more cells than humans, these mammals do not have an increased risk of developing cancer. This means that the bowhead whales have developed some kind of mechanisms that fight against cancerous cells from invading their bodies. These natural defense mechanisms are more advanced than in other animals, the new study shows.
Scientists hope that in the future they can identify those specific genes that could help explain why whales have a longer life span than other animals, including humans. They have already identified a gene called ERCC1 that helps the DNA repair itself.
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