AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Sharks kill cancer.

Sharks, thought of as being outwardly violent, are inwardly violent too. Sharks are generally resistant to viruses because of molecules their body have, especially a molecule named squalamine, discovered in 1993 from dogfish sharks. This molecule kills human viruses and can fight, kill, and prevent bacteria and cancer as well.  Squalamine can fight and treat a variety of cancers from the eye to the liver. Researchers believe this molecule can be a potential cure to HIV.

The way this molecule works relates to our current topic of study in AP Biology class. Squalamine sticks to cell membranes of various organs and blood vessels. By connecting with receptors on the cell, it prevents other proteins to be received by the receptor and enter the cell, proteins that allow viruses to survive.

This molecule is the reason sharks are so resilient towards various illnesses and can help humans become that way as well. It has been known that oils from their liver can be used as an anti-inflammatory and studies now show that one of their molecules can help cure liver diseases.  Shark oil is used in a very popular, over the counter anti-inflammatory medication used for arthritis, Chondroitin, that  contains shark cartilage. This discovery can help save millions of lives, but before you go and kill millions of sharks in the process, it might be a good idea to try to figure out a way to help humans and keep sharks safe, as well.


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  1. biologiamaster

    Over the summer i interned with a doctor who used shark cartilage injections in his practice of treating cancer patients. He’s since stopped using the shark cartilage because he says its very hard to source from a reliable producer and is worried about mercury toxicity.

    This sparked my interest and i found an article published in China (a country where shark fin soup is a delicacy) that warns of the mercury content of shark fins. An officer of the United states-based Wild Aid (deals with illegal trafficking of marine life) is quoted saying “”Shark fin may cause sterility because of mercury and other heavy metals contamination,” said Victor Wu, an officer at the United States-based WildAid, “and the risk to men is much higher than women.””

    Reference –

  2. gababoutbio

    Very interesting to hear this. Did you know that Shark fin is a common ingredient in soups from the east. They have been eating this soup for years because it was a common belief that the shark fin would help the human be like the shark “immune to diseases such as cancer.” But, This has proven to be partially a myth because shark fin actually contains mercury so it is dangerous for humans to eat a lot of it.

    For more information about this go to:

  3. aminoalix

    Due to your love of sharks, I was not surprised to see you had written about the animals in your blog post. While sharks may be “healers,” they have also proven to be extremely dangerous when they feel threatened, especially when those intimidating them are humans. Bethany Hamilton is a great example of someone who was hurt, not helped, by sharks.

    Take a look:

  4. 12whiteal

    Great article sar418. I personally dislike sharks and I never knew that they could potentially help humans. I know you want to find a way to keep sharks and humans healthy and there is! Sharks don’t have to be killed to obtain squalamine steroid. In fact, it can be synthesized from a soy bean. cool huh? Check out this video for more information about this.

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