© 2022 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
All of us at Buffalo Toronto Public Media are heartbroken by the senseless tragedy that occurred in our great City on Saturday, May 14th. We are grieving with our community and are committed to helping it heal. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, friends, and the employees and customers of Tops Friendly Markets.
Health & Wellness

Elephants may unpack a trunkload of info about human cancers

Buffalo Zoo

Elephants are a favorite animals of people who like to watch the huge mammals roam vast plains and use their long trunks for food and water. What’s different about elephants is that they can get cancer, but don’t die from it.What scientists are learning is that those giant bodies -- and the bodies of all of their genetic relatives of any size -- contain vast amounts of cancer tumor suppressors.

University at Buffalo Biology Assistant Professor Vincent Lynch said it has become a fascinating topic of research.

"You’d think that elephants out there on the plains of the Serengeti, exposed to all this sunlight might get skin cancer, but they don’t. They do get these muscular cancers -- cancer in the muscle -- but it never turns to metastatic cancer, never travels throughout the body. And it doesn’t kill them. They just sort of have cancer," Lynch said.

Working with University of California at Berkeley biologist Juan Manuel Vazquez, Lynch said they suspect these tumor suppressors are why elephants and all of their relatives, alive or extinct, grew to large sizes. He says studying the elephants and the tumor suppressors might offer clues to applying this research to human cancers.

Related Content