Ability to ward off free radicals that turn to tumors the key
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/18/2013 -- Experts are starting to believe that the bats natural ability to fight off severely harmful toxins and viruses such as Ebola and SARS, could be copied into humans in order to treat or prevent cancers and infectious diseases.
In what is groundbreaking research in the study of bats, published in the journal Science, there are now links between the mammals' resilient immune system and the evolutionary adaptations it has for flight.
The SCIRO's Animal Health Laboratory as well as the Beijing Genome Institute team have sequenced the totality of the genome of the Australian megabat, known as the flying fox, and the Chinese micro bat.
Chris Cowled, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the Animal Health Laboratory, analyzed data collected by researchers in order to understand why bats could be natural reserves for such deadly diseases, and never sucummed to them.
Crawled stated that when bats flew, they used high levels of energy, and the production of that energy created waste product. That waste included free radicals that attacked cells and damaged the genetic structure of the bat. That lead to the most important finding of the researchers regarding how the bat was able to tolerate such raised levels of toxins within their own system.
"We actually found bats have a whole set of unique changes in the mechanism that detects and repairs broken DNA," Dr Cowled said. "We looked even closer and it turns out that these same genes are important for things like stopping cancers, and also they're important in the aging process.
"They also happen to have quite a strong link to the immune system. So we think we've really found something special."
The research may hopefully lead to the ground-floor understanding that will eventually result in future studies that will attempt to replicate the 'safety switch' that bats possess. If that switch can be located and recreated, the repairing of damaged cells, or removal of such damage before it turns to tumorous entities, could be a large step toward the health of humans.
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