Elephant proteins may cure cancer

WELL, THE RINGLING BROTHERS ELEPHANTS HAVE QUIT SHOW BIZ – BUT, NOW, THEY’RE AIDING RESEARCHERS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER. A PROTEIN IN THESE BIG-EARED GIANTS MIGHT BE THE KEY TO A CURE. A PROTEIN IS A MATERIAL FOUND IN THE BODIES OF ANIMALS THAT BUILDS, MAINTAINS, AND REPLACES THE TISSUES IN YOUR BODY. UP NEXT, MIKE ANDERSON EXPLAINS HOW ELEPHANT PROTEINS COULD SAVE LIVES.

NAT SOUND: "THIS IS A PEDIATRIC BONE TUMOR." INSIDE A PETRI DISH, DOCTOR JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN SHOWS US HOW A SYNTHETIC ELEPHANT PROTEIN... DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "WE'VE MADE IT IN A LAB. WE'VE INTRODUCED IT INTO THESE CELLS." ...ACTUALLY ATTACKS HUMAN CANCER CELLS AS HIGHLIGHTED BY THE GLOWING GREEN. DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "IT IS REMARKABLE. THE LAB IS JUST SO EXCITED." IT COMES AFTER YEARS OF WORK AT THE HUNTSMAN CANCER INSTITUTE. SCHIFFMAN SAYS THE FIRST TIME HE SAW THIS HAPPENING... DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "OH, IT WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST THRILLING EXPERIENCES I'VE EVER HAD AS MY CAREER IN MEDICINE." RESEARCHERS STUDIED THE BLOOD OF ELEPHANTS FROM THE BARNUM AND BAILEY CIRCUS, AND ONE AT HOGLE ZOO, ALL WITH ONE IDEA IN MIND. DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "ELEPHANTS ALMOST NEVER GET CANCER, AND WE THINK THE REASON WHY IS THEY HAVE EXTRA COPIES OF THIS CANCER-FIGHTING PROTEIN." THAT PROTEIN, CALLED P-53, IS SHOWING SOME VERY EXCITING POTENTIAL FOR SCHIFFMAN AND HIS TEAM, IN A BATTLE THAT IS VERY PERSONAL FOR HIM.

AS AN ONCOLOGIST, HE TREATS CHILDREN WITH CANCER AND ... DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "WHEN I WAS 15, I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH HODGKIN'S LYMPHOMA, A TYPE OF CHILDHOOD CANCER." AN EXPERIENCE THAT HE SAYS PUSHED HIM TO DO WHAT HE DOES TODAY. DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "AND I WATCH THOSE VIDEOS OF THOSE CELLS DYING, EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP AND EVERY NIGHT BEFORE I GO TO BED. BECAUSE THIS, FOR US, THIS IS OUR INSPIRATION." MIKE ANDERSON: "THE TEAM HERE IS NOW WORKING WITH A LAB IN ISRAEL TO SYNTHESIZE THAT PROTEIN, AND THEN TEST IT HERE ON ANIMALS. IF ALL GOES AS PLANNED, THEY COULD START HUMAN TESTING IN ABOUT THREE YEARS." AND WHILE THERE'S NO GUARANTEE THAT THIS ELEPHANT PROTEIN WILL WORK IN HUMANS...

DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "THE ELEPHANTS HAVE HAD 55 MILLION YEARS OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, TO REALLY DESIGN THE PERFECT CANCER-FIGHTING PROTEIN." SCHIFFMAN SAYS HE AND HIS TEAM WILL CONTINUE WORKING LONG HOURS TO GIVE IT THE BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE. DR. JOSHUA SCHIFFMAN: "WE SAY THAT CANCER DOESN'T SLEEP, AND NEITHER SHOULD WE."

Instructional Links

Website Article: KidsHealth, What is Cancer? | Additional articles on treatments

Website Article: American Cancer Society, How Chemotherapy Drugs Work

Website Article & Videos: Ringling Brothers Center for Cancer Research, Do Elephants Hold the Key to Cancer | Info and videos on why elephants seldom get cancer

Encyclopedia Article: World Book Student, Protein | May need password

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