Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Genes with Jaws
25 April 2017

Genes with Jaws

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

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