The ‘Zombie Gene’

 The ‘Zombie Gene’ That May Protect Elephants From Cancer

With such enormous bodies, elephants should be particularly prone to tumors. But an ancient gene in their DNA, somehow resurrected, seems to shield the animals.

 

Elephants, like their forebears mastodons and mammoths, carry a unique gene whose proteins kill off potentially cancerous cells. CreditScanpix, via Reuters

Elephants ought to get a lot of cancer. They’re huge animals, weighing as much as eight tons. It takes a lot of cells to make up that much elephant.

All of those cells arose from a single fertilized egg, and each time a cell divides, there’s a chance that it will gain a mutation — one that may lead to cancer.

Strangely, however, elephants aren’t more prone to cancer than smaller animals. Some research even suggests they get less cancer than humans do