How elephants are crucial to cancer research

Over the course of the past few years intensive research has been done on elephants specifically on studying their cells. Elephant’s cells can play an extensive role in advancing cancer research for humans. You may be wondering why is this? How is an elephant’s cell so unique? Well elephants rarely get cancer. This may seem impossible since they weigh tons which means their cells are significantly bigger than a human sized cell, and they should be more prone to getting cancer. In addition, elephants have “hundreds of times the number of cells — and have similarly long natural lifespans — but their cells mutate, become cancerous, and kill them less frequently”. This peculiar trait is being studied by the ACE team, they have given it the name ‘Peto’s Paradox’ named for Richard Peto, a British epidemiologist.” Elephants make multiple copies of their genes, so if a mutation does occur in an elephant’s cell thus becoming cancerous “..instead of reproducing, just kill themselves.”

Researchers now are trying to work with human cells and see if this “cancer-fighting technique” used by elephants could lead to new medical treatments. Peto’s Paradox seems to work on every type of cancer that it was tried on. Which would really cut down on the time and money needed to study every form/type of cancer. If  Peto’s Paradox were to work on human cells on a bigger scale than just the “petri dish” used in this study more time could be devoted to just perfecting this technique in human cells and would for the first time ever be a revolutionary cure for every cancer known to man.  

Protecting Elephants

According to research African forest elephants help fight against climate change. There is a direct correlation between African forest elephant eating patterns and a reduction in carbon emissions released in their ecosystem. “African forest elephants need to eat 5-10 percent of their body weight (about 200-600 pounds) every day. They mostly feed on trees with lower wood density — leaving more room in the forest for the growth of high-wood-density trees that more efficiently absorb carbon in the environment, reported Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz from University of Nottingham.” Sadly, this species faces constant threats from poachers and the ever rising issue of deforestation. It’s essential to protect elephants and their habitats so they don’t go extinct. “[I]f African forest elephants go extinct, above-ground biomass — the organic materials such as trees that live above soil, essential to storing carbon — would decrease by 7 percent in Central Africa’s rainforests. Tropical forests can provide at least 30 percent of the mitigation needed to limit global warming, making their protection vital not only for the elephants’ diets and habitats, but for the planet.”

As mentioned earlier elephants rarely get cancer so if their species die off, so would the key to finding a cure for cancer in humans as many leading scientists believe. Elephants are virtually on the edge of extinction, their disappearance could have far-reaching effects for both public health and cancer research. As a result, scientists are trying to quickly gather as much data as they can while elephants are still here. However not all hope is lost. Conservation International is working hard to protect species such as elephants, the habitat they live in, and to help stabilize climates all around the world.

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