What animals can defeat cancer and what is their secret?

Cancer. This family of diseases, whose name in Latin means “crab”, is characterized by anarchic proliferation of our cells, which have become immortal. The masses formed in this way, called “tumors”, can lead to think of living beings as parasites within our body, as long as they have a certain degree of organization.

Cancer cells will “persuade” healthy cells around them to form new blood vessels to “feed” the tumor.“, – explains Frederick Thomas, Director of CNRS Research, during a conference at the Embassy of Australia as part of the Australia Now program of events.

If the localization of the tumor in vital organs, such as the brain or heart, can in some cases lead to death, then metastases – when cancer cells migrate from the original tumor to settle elsewhere in the body – kill the patient. But this disease affects not only people, but not so.

Cancer exists in all classes of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, ed.), but also in invertebrates such as cnidarians (a group that includes jellyfish, corals and actins) “, the author clarifiesThe disgusting secret of cancerยป, Published by Alpha editions.

โ‹™ Your “common point” with sea anemone? A gene involved in sensory perception

Thus, cancer was present more than half a billion years ago. Since then, living organisms have continued to develop strategies to prevent or slow cancer. However, because it is necessary to reach a “compromise” between anticancer remedies, necessarily expensive energy, and the efficiency of reproduction of the species – or “reproductive success”, natural selection is mandatory. This explains why the cancer never disappeared.

The Elephant, Cancer and Peto Paradox

Since cancer is born from a cell that has gone “crazy”, logically, the largest animals should have more cancers than those that are small. However, this is not the case. “This is called the “Peto paradox”.clarifies Frederick Thomas. In fact, tall species have devices to fight cancer.“.

Here is how one of the animals endowed with an exclusive “secret” against cancer is just one of the most notable terrestrial vertebrates: it is an elephant. In its genome thick-skinned “has 20 copies of the cancer suppressor gene, of which we humans have only one copy“, – inclines the biologist.

In addition to its size, and hence the number of cells, the elephant has another “reason” to develop this amazing strategy, namely: its place in the food chain. “Animals that are more at risk of death from something else, especially from predators, will not show as many anti-cancer devices“, Says Frederick Thomas.

Hairless digger and his ultra-resistant skin

Therefore, if mice do not have a particular evolutionary interest in developing cancer strategies, risking being bitten at any time, it is among rodents that we find another example of an animal that is particularly resistant to cancer. This is a naked digger, or naked digger, also known for its unattractive appearance – at least in terms of aesthetic criteria of man.

โ‹™ 10 strangest ugly animals

The secret of its longevity – naked blind can live up to 30 years – can actually be found in the epidermis of this animal with underground habits. “To walk through the galleries, they have very stable skin, consisting of cells covered with a certain type of hyaluronic acid.explains Frederick Thomas. It is this hyaluronic acid that would prevent the development of cancer, at least in their skin.

Tasmanian devil and its transmissible cancers

On the contrary, other animals may be close – and still close – to extinction due to the disease. This is the case of the Tasmanian devil, an animal that got its name from the island from which it is endemic, off the south coast of Australia.

This marsupial is a victim of transmissible cancer – a very rare case, because in transmissible forms of cancer “it is usually the causative agent of the cancer that is transmitted (for example, the human papilloma virus that causes uterine cancer), not the cancer cells themselves“- emphasizes Frederick Thomas.

The devil infects his relatives through bites that are common to this species – whether to gain access to food or to females. Discovered in the saliva of a biting individual, cancer cells have time to infect the attacked animal and form tumors on the face. After a few months, the cancerous masses are so imposing that they lead to the death of an animal that has become incapable of eating.

The first transmissible cancer appeared 26 years ago, killing 85 to 90% of the Tasmanian devil’s population.“, explains Frederick Thomas. If the species still manages to survive by developing resistance to this cancer, it still risks extinction. Indeed,”The second type of transmissible cancer appeared – independently – 7 years ago“, – says the researcher.

โ‹™ Destroyed by a form of cancer, the unexpected resistance of the Tasmanian devil

Whether they are resistant or vulnerable to cancer, animals allow us to better understand the disease in order to possibly develop new treatments. Other exciting pathways also arise from collaboration between oncologists and environmentalists, respectively, specialists in cancer and ecosystems. As well as adaptive therapy, which consists in not applying the maximum dose of treatment (chemotherapy) to avoid the promotion of resistant tumor cells.

Read also:

Why are people vulnerable to cancer?

Ants would be very effective in detecting cancer

Ants would be very effective in detecting cancer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.