Antlers and Cancer Research

Cancer has a large-scale impact on humanity, not only in the United States but across the world. Scientists believe cancer is a genetic disease because it is caused by changes to the genes that control the way cells function, specifically how they grow and divide. These cancer cells are different from normal cells that can allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. Cancer cells can continue to grow and divide without stopping. Scientists are working hard doing extensive research to try to find a way to stop these cancer cells from growing out of control and maybe one day not growing at all.

The antlers in ruminants (like moose, deer, elk, and reindeer) can sprout up to half a meter in one month. Antlers are complex organs of bones, blood vessels, nerves, muscle, skin, and even fur, known as velvet. Antlers are an important part of the body as they need it to fend off predators, displaying dominance over other males, and attracting a mate. To be able to regenerate an organ is a unique quality that few animals can do; the only mammals able to do this are ruminants. These scientific facts have caused researchers to look into the genes that are involved in the antler cell growth. 

Chinese scientists have discovered that all the genes that are related to the growth process are genes associated with cancer. So if the antlers' fast growth is caused by cancer genes why don't the animals get cancer in the process? The cancer rate of deer is five times less than any other mammals; another interesting finding that has peaked scientist's interest in using deer in finding ways to fight cancer. The genes that were responsible for rapid cell creation are also able to suppress and possibly even stop the growth altogether. These genes are not growing out of control but are part of the animal's highly regulated system of genes, which both suppress and inhibit tumor growth. Per experts genes that exist in ruminants like sheep, goats, cows, and deer are also the same genes that exist in humans. These studies are highly significant because they could be substantial for future cancer research.


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