Genes Discovered by Scientists That Protect Whales From Cancer And Gives Them Longevity

The coding in the genes of whales has a surprising attribute that has not been observed in any other known mammal on the face of the Earth. Massive leviathans of the planet, gentle giants and key figures of marine ecosystems, whales are some of the longest-lived mammals in the world. It seems that their genetic makeup provides them with a natural barrier against cancer.

A natural barrier against cancer

Following research collaboration with ICAEV, Universidad Austral de Chile, and the University of Liverpool, involving three biologists  Daniela Tejada-Martinez, João Pedro de Magalhães and Juan C. Opazo, described their genetic study of longevity in several species of cetaceans and what they learned published in the scientific journal ”Proceedings of The Royal Society B”.Positive selection and gene duplications in tumour suppressor genes reveal clues about how cetaceans resist cancer. The study details that cetaceans have special genes that help them protect them from cancerous tumours.

This impressive natural capacity captivated the biologists, who were in charge of the study. Among the species they took into account, they included whales, porpoises, and dolphins. Previous studies indicate that some species of cetaceans such as Greenland whales can live for more than a century. The researchers proved the theory that genetics are closely linked to longevity and protection against cancer. Previous research has shown that cetaceans do not follow the same tendency as other large mammals in the animal kingdom  in which larger animals tend to have a greater chance of developing cancerous tumours that limit their lifespan.

For this, they created genetic maps of the parts of their genetic codes that contain tumor suppressor genes and compared them to other mammals, both marine and terrestrial, including the human genome.

Finally, in addition to discovering the natural gene barrier of whales, the scientists showed that they possess 71 tumor suppressor genes. According to the results of the study, the turnover rate of these genes was 2.4 times faster and more effective than that of any other known mammal. Although, they recognize that more indepth research is required to understand the origin of this accelerated genetic renewal, they are certain that the longevity of cetaceans is based on this evolutionary advantage.

Source in Spanish

Descubren los genes que protegen a las ballenas de tumores cancerígenos y alargan su vida

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