In 2014, scientists studying radioactive mutant wolves in Chernobyl found genes that might inform cancer prevention in humans.
“In 2014, Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University, set out with a team of researchers to understand how animals have been able to survive the cancer-causing radiation.
Love and her team took blood samples from the wolves and placed GPS collars with radiation dosimeters on them to get real-time measurements of where they were and their radiation exposure levels.
‘We get real-time measurements of where they are and how much [radiation] they are exposed to,’ said Love.
The researchers examined the genetic differences between the DNA of mutated wolves in the 1,000-square-mile radius of the CEZ and those outside it.
The results showed that, despite receiving potentially deadly daily radiation doses, the wolves appeared remarkably resilient against its effects.
Analysis showed that a number of their genes which are linked to cancer had new mutations to them, suggesting they had evolved to protect against the radiation.
It is hoped that the discovery could pave the way for experts to identify mutations in humans that reduce the risk of cancer.
The new research was presented last month at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology’s Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington.”