Since Charles Darwin’s discovery in the Galapagos Islands, these giant tortoises have had different physical characteristics. One is capable of living for more than a century and some specimens are estimated to live up to 175 years.
The secret to the longevity of the Galapagos giant tortoise is not yet known specifically. Including its ability to destroy cancer cells. Because, in the body of an old animal, there are many cells that have the potential to become evil. (Also read; Researchers Find Longevity Secrets in Rockfish DNA)
A team of researchers from the University at Buffalo, New York, conducted an in-depth study by examining the genome of the Galapagos giant tortoise. Genome is a complete set of DNA from living things, including humans. The genome contains all the information needed to form and carry out bodily functions.
The research team found in the genome of the Galapagos giant tortoise to have additional copies of several genes, in particular those associated with longevity and tumor suppression. Tumor suppressor genes work for damaged cells to destroy themselves before they become cancerous.
This gene actually exists in other organisms, but with age it usually slows down. But this is not the case with the Galapagos giant tortoise. (Also read; 10 Longest Living Animals on Earth, Tortoises and Crocodiles Don’t Enter)
“It turns out that the Galapagos tortoise’s genes are really great at killing cells themselves before they have the potential to cause diseases like cancer,” said Vincent Lynch in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.
This research improves understanding of the biological mechanisms of cancer and aging. At the same time knowing the secrets hidden in the genome of the Galapagos giant tortoise, especially for the development of health science in humans.
“If you can identify the way nature, certain species develop protection, maybe you can find a way to translate those discoveries into something that benefits human health and disease,” Lynch said.
Lynch asserted, the treatment was certainly not by using the Galapagos tortoise gene to humans. “But, perhaps, we can find a drug that mimics this important function (longevity and cancer-free),” he said.