Sharks once fought against dinosaurs for their dinner, and have been evolving into ruthless and efficient predators ever since. Evolution has also fine-tuned their immune systems – sharks like this Great White heal wounds very quickly. Two shark immunity genes, called LGMN and Bag1, recently raised researchers’ eyebrows as similar genes in humans are frequently involved in cancers. Studying how the genes have adapted to protect sharks against the disease may influence human gene therapies in years to come. The toothy predators also show remarkable adaptation in genes which fend off infections – useful in seas home to many types of bacteria. All in all, sharks have a lot to tell us about our own evolution and future health – another reason why the Save Our Seas Foundation is trying to protect them from the dangers of overfishing.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.