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Shark DNA could hold clues to fighting cancer
“Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases; now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these large-bodied, long-lived sharks.”

Study suggests great whites have evolved protective abilities

Scientists have decoded the entire genome of the great white shark, which could offer clues to fighting cancer and age-related diseases in humans, as well as improving wound healing treatments.

Comparing the great white’s genome to a human genome, the research team found numerous genetic changes that could explain the evolutionary success of this large-bodied, long-lived species.

The findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Adaptive changes were found in numerous genes that play important roles in genome stability, the genetic defence mechanisms that counteract accumulation of damage to DNA. Scientists identified these changes in genes that are closely linked with DNA repair, damage response and damage tolerance, among others.

The opposite phenomenon, genome instability, which occurs as a result of accumulated DNA damage, is known to predispose humans to numerous cancers and age-related diseases.

Theoretically, the risk of developing cancer should increase with both the number of cells (large bodies) and the organism’s lifespan; there is statistical support for a positive relationship between body size and cancer risk. However, this does not hold up across all species.

Scientists said that contrary to expectations, very large-bodied animals do not get cancer more often than humans, suggesting they have developed superior protective abilities.

Sharks are also known for their rapid wound healing and scientists found evolutionary adaptations in genes linked to wound healing pathways, including a key blood clotting gene.

Co-leader of the study, Mahmood Shivji, who is director of the Nova Southeastern University’s Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre, said: “Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases; now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these large-bodied, long-lived sharks.”

“There’s still tons to be learned from these evolutionary marvels, including information that will potentially be useful to fight cancer and age-related diseases, and improve wound healing treatments in humans, as we uncover how these animals do it.”

Decoding the great white’s genome will also help with conservation of this and related shark species, many of which are suffering declining populations due to overfishing.

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Registrations open for overseas veterinary professionals course

News Story 1
 Registrations are now open for the RCVS CPD course for overseas veterinary professionals, which covers an introduction to the UK veterinary professions.

The course is aimed at overseas-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses during their first two years of working in the UK, in addition to those considering working here. It provides graduates with the key information and skills required to practice in the UK, as well as helping them understand their legal duties as veterinary professionals.

For more information and to book your place please click here. The course will be held at Belgravia House, London, on Wednesday 12 June.  

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News Shorts
BVA launches award to celebrate young vets

A new award has been launched to celebrate inspirational young vets who are making a difference in their day to day work.

Nominations are now open for the BVA Young Vet of the Year Award, which is the first of its kind. It is open to all vets registered with the RCVS in the first eight years of their careers, working in any veterinary sphere, including clinical practice, research, education or veterinary politics. Organisers are looking for an ‘exceptional young vet’ whose work has benefitted the veterinary community or the workplace.

The awards are open for self-entry and nominations by 1 August 2019. The winner will be announced at London Vet Show on 14 November 2019, where a £1000 cash prize will be awarded, alongside a ‘career enhancing experience’ with Zoetis.