According to a recent research, bats have evolved to resist cancer, and the findings may help people cure or prevent infections in addition to cancer.
The “extraordinary” capacity of bats, the only flying mammal, to host and survive infections and even prevent cancer may be due to their quick evolutionary history; this ability is ingrained in their DNA.
Among mammals, bats are unique due to their long lifespans, strong immune systems, low cancer rates, and ability to fly.
There may be ramifications for human health from the peculiar aspects of bats’ innate immune response that enable them to withstand viral infections.
For example, researchers may be able to stop disease epidemics from spreading from animals to humans if they have a better knowledge of the immune system processes in bats that enable them to withstand viral infections.
In the long run, comparative genomic studies of cancer-prone animals and bats may provide light on the aetiology of cancer and the connections between immunity and cancer. Research on other creatures, like as bats, supplement research based on mouse models; mice are easier to manipulate experimentally than bats, but they show less traits that might be related to human illness.
In a work that Oxford University Press published in Genome Biology and Evolution
This week, the genomes of two bat species—the Mesoamerican moustached bat and the Jamaican fruit bat—were sequenced by researchers using the Oxford Nanopore Technologies long-read technology and bat samples obtained with assistance from the American Museum of Natural History in Belize.
A thorough comparative genomic study was conducted by researchers at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York using a wide variety of bats and other animals.
Six DNA repair-related proteins and 46 cancer-related proteins in bats showed genetic alterations, indicating that these proteins had been shown to inhibit cancer in the past.
Notably, the research discovered that, in comparison to other mammals, the bat group had an enrichment of these modified cancer-related genes that was more than double.
“We continue to find extraordinary new adaptations in antiviral and anticancer genes by generating these new bat genomes and comparing them to other mammals,” said Armin Scheben, the main author of the work.
“These studies are the first step towards converting knowledge about the distinct biology of bats into knowledge applicable to the diagnosis and treatment of human ageing and diseases, including cancer.”
With programmes in cancer, neurology, plant biology, and quantitative biology, the non-profit Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory, which was founded in 1890 and is home to eight Nobel Prize winners, advances biomedical research and teaching. The Simons Centre for Quantitative Biology and the National Institutes of Health provided additional funding.