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Chernobyl wolves develop cancer-defying genetic mutation

Chernobyl wolves develop cancer-defying genetic mutation

Generations of wolves, dogs and bears live in the ghost zone where the nuclear accident occurred.
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On April 26, 1986 happened The largest nuclear disaster in history: a incident Chernobyl. The explosion of the RBMK reactor in the city of Pripyat (northern Ukraine) released radiation equivalent to 500 times the radiation of the Hiroshima atomic bomb in 1945.

The disaster forced more The area was evacuated by 100,000 residents and workersAnd in some cases forever. Thousands of people fell ill and died from the effects of radiation in the months (and even years) that followed.

After the incident, a perimeter was created 30 km around the factory Nuclear. It's the call Chernobyl exclusion zone (ZEC), where there are only ruins.

Only animals and plants exposed to radiation live in the exclusion zone.

There has been no human activity in this area since then Wild plants and animals spread. Vegetation crept over the remains of houses and buildings, and animals such as dogs, bears, horses, wild boars and wolves reproduced freely.

For many scholars, place is a An ideal laboratory to study the effects of nearly four decades of radiation In different types of animals and plants.

Wolves with genetic mutations

A team from Princeton University decided to investigate How do Chernobyl wolves live?Despite years of cumulative exposure to radioactive particles.

To achieve this, in 2014 scientists traveled to ZEC and developed Special collars on wolves' necks. GPS-equipped devices and radiation dosimeters have made it possible to obtain real-time measurements of where and where wolves are located. The amount of radiation they are exposed to. They also collected blood samples to understand how wolves' bodies respond to radiation.

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Wolves, Chernobyl
Animals are exposed to high levels of radiation.

“We knew that Chernobyl wolves had been there for seven or eight generations. These people had been exposed their whole lives to the radiation effects of the site,” explained Shane Campbell-Staton, head of the research team.

Wolves eat bison that previously ate grass and other plants filled with radiation. “We know that radiation causes a lot of damage to the bodies of mammals,” said Campbell Station, an environmental disease expert.

Records revealed that the animals Exposure to more than 11.28 millirem (Mariam) of radiation every dayThis is equivalent to six times the maximum amount legally permissible for humans.

They found that unlike wolves that live outside the ECCZ, the wolves in the study do Changes in your immune systemsimilar to those given by human cancer patients receiving radiotherapy.

But the most promising thing is that the researchers have sequenced and identified the genomes Specific areas appear to be resistant to increased cancer risk. Mutations in genes linked to cancer suggest they may have evolved to protect against radiation.

“Surprisingly, they… The cancer has not developed; Instead, the wolf blood showed patterns that would be expected from someone with cancer.

Wolves, Chernobyl
Dr. Kara Love, a member of the research team at Princeton University.

Human research has found mutations that increase cancer risk, but this work takes that aim Learn how these genetic mutations occur And how they can increase the chances of surviving cancer in humans.

Campbell-Staton said that by understanding how natural selection shapes organisms to survive and reproduce, studying this process could lead to new insights into treating this terrible disease.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic first and then the war between Russia and Ukraine The team has not yet been able to return to the area to continue the search. However, preliminary results were presented in January of that year at the committee's annual meeting Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology In Seattle, Washington.