NewsChornobyl's mutated wolves develop cancer resistance, a new study reveals

Chornobyl's mutated wolves develop cancer resistance, a new study reveals

Mutated wolves in Chernobyl. Surprising research results.
Mutated wolves in Chernobyl. Surprising research results.
Images source: © Pixabay

3:43 AM EST, February 9, 2024

Nearly forty years have passed since the Chornobyl disaster that led to the complete depopulation of the area. The Exclusion Zone around the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant now houses a Radiation-Ecological Reserve, home to a population of wolves. These wolves have recently garnered interest due to newly conducted research.

As reported by "New York Post", these mutated wolves wandering in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have developed abilities to resist cancer.

The research suggests that the mutated wolves roaming the human-free exclusion zone in Chernobyl possess cancer-resistant genomes. This revolutionary discovery could be instrumental in helping humans combat this deadly disease.

Despite the radiation levels stemming from a reactor explosion at the power plant in Chernobyl in 1986, wildlife has managed to adapt and survive. This incident is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Humans vacated the area following the explosion that released carcinogenic radiation into the environment. An area spanning 618 square miles was cordoned off to prevent further human exposure.

Almost 38 years post the nuclear disaster, nature has reclaimed this area - including wolf packs seemingly unaffected by continuous radiation exposure.

In-depth research on Chernobyl's wolves

Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist, studied how these mutated wolves evolved to survive in the radioactive environment. Her findings were reported at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology's annual meeting in Seattle.

In 2014, Love and her team entered the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone to equip wild wolves with GPS collars with built-in radiation dosimeters. They collected blood samples from the animals to evaluate their reaction to carcinogenic radiation.

According to Love, the specialized collars enable researchers to monitor in real time the regions where the wolves inhabit and their exposure to radiation.

These wolves encounter 11.28 millirem of radiation daily, exceeding the permissible safety level for humans by more than six times.

However, scientists have discovered that the immune systems of the Chornobyl wolves differ from those of regular wolves - similarly to patients undergoing radiotherapy for cancer. Love identified specific regions of the wolf genome that seem resistant to increased cancer risk.

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