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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, October 9, 2015

While we do not know how to create the 38 additional copies of a gene in Elephants that codes for a tumor suppressor protein called p53, would we not be smart to do everything possible to perpetuate large populations of Elelphants as well as the rest of natures creation in it's wild state so that we keep the genetic code of the Earth optimum.........By doing this, we retain all the ingredients of life available to us so as to derive new foods, medicines and other life giving properties to optimize our existence as well as the existence of all that share the planet with us over the millenia ahead?,,,,....As our great mid 20th century naturalist Aldo Leopold stated in his classic Round River journal: "The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, What good is it?".......... "If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not"........... "If the biota, in the course of eons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?"............ "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering"

Jumbo shield against cancer


New Delhi, Oct. 8: An Indian cancer biologist in the US who
 grew up in Chennai loving organic chemistry and
mathematics has helped resolve a puzzle that had baffled
 scientists for decades: the rarity of cancer in elephants.

Srividya Bhaskara, a principal investigator at the
 Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah,
 is part of a research team that has found that elephants
 have 38 additional copies of a gene that codes for a
 tumour suppressor protein called p53.

Humans, in contrast, have two copies of p53. The
team's experiments suggest that the additional copies
 of p53 give elephants a far more robust mechanism to
 kill damaged cells that may turn cancerous than similar
 cellular machinery available in humans.

The rarity of cancer among elephants, despite their life
 spans ranging between 50 and 70 years, has been a
puzzle because their large body size and rapid growth
 while they are young should increase the frequency
of cancer as they grow and age.

Some biologists compute that such a cancer risk
should have caused elephants to go extinct."At the
 rate of cell division we see, young elephants should
be getting cancer and dying before they even get a
 chance to reproduce," Joshua Schiffman, a paediatric
 oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute who led
 the research, told The Telegraph over the phone.

However, the researchers, who analysed a database
 of over 600 elephants maintained by an elephant-
keeper in Sweden, found that only about five per
cent of the elephants had been documented as dying
 from cancer compared with about 11 to 25 per cent
of humans.
The study's findings appeared today in the Journal
 of the American Medical Association.

The p53, discovered 35 years ago, has long been
 known to suppress tumours by signalling cells
that have acquired genetic damage to commit
apoptosis, or cellular suicide. The p53 gene is
mutated or inactivated in breast, liver, lung,
ovarian and colon cancers, among others.

Now, the Utah researchers have found that
 elephant cells subjected to genetic damage
are pushed towards apoptosis far more
aggressively than human cells with similar
 genetic damage.
Bhaskara, independently involved in research
 aimed at developing new drugs for chemotherapy,
 helped design some of the experiments on
elephant cells, sharing her expertise on biological
repair mechanisms involving genetic material.

The scientists found that elephant cells self-
destructed at twice the rate of healthy human
 cells and more than five times the rate of cells
from people with a condition called Li-Fraumeni,
 who have only one copy of p53 and thus are at
high risk of developing cancer.
"This is a discovery," Renu Wadhwa, head of the
cell proliferation research group at the National
Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and
Technology in Japan, who was not associated
 with the Utah research, said over the phone.

"These findings suggest that elephants have very
 strong tumour suppressor mechanisms. Through
the extra copies of the gene, elephants are securing
 this mechanism."

But scientists have cautioned that more research
 would be needed to fully understand the mechanisms
in play in elephants. Earlier studies in mice had shown
 that extra copies of p53 could accelerate ageing.
"It is possible that elephants have some compensatory
genetic mechanisms that prevent the premature ageing
observed in mice with extra p53," said Sanjeev Das, a
senior scientist at the National Institute of Immunology,
 New Delhi, who has been independently studying p53
mechanisms in cancer.

Bhaskara, who completed school and university in
 Chennai before moving to the US for research, recalls
 wanting to study organic chemistry and mathematics
 while in high school but later switching to biochemistry
 in university.

"Mathematics is theoretical," she said in a phone
interview. "But biochemistry is lab work -- and I'm
doing just that."
The Utah scientists are hoping to use their findings
 to test large numbers of natural or synthetic
 compounds on cancer cells.
"We want to determine if any compound can mimic,
 in cells exposed to genetic damage, the effect of the
 extra p53 we see in elephant cells," Schiffman said.
 "The long-term goal is to apply such knowledge on

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