A powerful resistance to the multiplication of cancer cells in wolves could be linked to the effects of the nuclear power plant
The wolves of Chernobyl could hold the keys to fight cancer. It is true that we have made incredible advances in recent years that have allowed fight cancer and destroy 99% of cancer cells, but this new study could hold the key to access achieve real resistance against these diseases. To a large extent, thanks to a study by a team of biologists who were able to investigate them. We are going to try to clarify the reasons behind this whole story.
The wolves of the Chernobyl exclusion zone
In the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), a place marked by the 1986 nuclear disaster and abandoned by humans due to radiation, wildlife and more specifically wolves, has experienced notable growth. Largely because the lack of anthropogenic impact in the region has made it a safe sanctuary for them, but also for reasons like adaptation.
A team of researchers has presented a very interesting study led by Dr. Cara Love at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Seattle, Washington. They have discovered that these wolves are genetically very different from their counterparts outside the exclusion zone, having developed protective mutations that They offer greater resistance to cancera surprising adaptation to the highly radioactive environment of the CEZ.
Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist at Princeton University, has invested a decade of her life studying these wolves, focusing on how have adapted their biological responses to a radiation-laden environment. In 2014, Love and her team added a twist to the methodology they were carrying out: they collected blood samples and equipped the wolves with tracking collars to monitor their movements and radiation exposure. Their findings revealed that, despite being exposed to significantly high radiation levelsthe wolves of Chernobyl show immune systems altered thanks to a change in their genetic paradigm.
“We have real-time information and we measure the level of radiation that the wolves are exposed to” – Dr. Cara Love
These discoveries once again offer us an important focus of light on the ability of wildlife to adapt to extreme conditionsbut they could also have very important implications for human health.
If the team identifies protective mutations, they could be adapted and better understood to position ourselves favorably in the fight against cancer. However, research efforts today are completely stopped due to two unexpected factors: first COVID-19, a pandemic that significantly reduced research, and now the Ukrainian War which prevents the team from traveling to the CEZ to continue their investigations.
“Our priority is that the people and collaborators there are as safe as possible” – Dr. Cara Love
- The study points out that wolves and other animals in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have adapted to the high levels of radioactivity.
- It is a genetic mutation that makes them resist this and not develop cancer.
- This has been discovered thanks to research that has been carried out in the area, examining and following the wolves.
- It may have applications for human health.
- The investigation has been stopped because of the War in Ukraine.
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