Immune Systems Of Bats Hold Potential in Cancer Prevention and Treatment, Says New Study

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A recent study, published in Genome Biology and Evolution by Oxford University Press, highlights the remarkable immune systems of bats and their potential in revolutionizing cancer treatment and prevention.

Immune Systems Of Bats Hold Potential in Cancer Treatment

Led by Armin Scheben at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, New York, the study sheds light on the unique genetic adaptations found in bats that make them immune to tumors and could provide valuable insights for human health.

Bats, often vilified, exhibit extraordinary characteristics such as longevity (up to 41 years), low cancer rates, and robust immune systems.

Intriguingly, certain bat species possess over 50 unique genes associated with cancer immunity. The study identified genetic adaptations in six DNA repair-related proteins and 46 cancer-related proteins in bats, indicating their potential to suppress cancer.

The research discovered that these modified cancer-related genes were more than twice as enriched in bats compared to other mammals. Bats stand out not only for their ability to fly but also for their resistance to cancer, making them an ideal subject of study for medical researchers.

Furthermore, bats’ remarkable tolerance to viral infections might be attributed to distinctive features in their innate immune response.

The study emphasizes the importance of unraveling the intricacies of the bat immune system to better prevent zoonotic disease outbreaks, such as the emergence of COVID-19.


Researchers underscore the need for further investigations to comprehensively understand how bats’ immune systems function. Armed with this knowledge, scientists hope to bolster disease prevention strategies and gain insights into treating aging and diseases, particularly cancer, in humans.

Comparative gene analyses between bats and mammals offer a promising avenue for uncovering the underpinnings of cancer and the intricate relationship between cancer and immunity.

This research direction, which complements traditional mouse-based studies, holds immense potential for advancing our understanding of human disease.

While mice have been favored for experimental manipulation due to their amenability, they exhibit fewer characteristics directly relevant to human disease.

In contrast, bats, with their unique traits and genetic adaptations, emerge as a promising focal point in the quest to unravel the mysteries of cancer and immunity, potentially opening new avenues for medical research.

In conclusion, bats, often maligned and misunderstood, may hold the key to transformative breakthroughs in cancer prevention and treatment. Their extraordinary immune systems, longevity, and resistance to cancer are now being harnessed for the benefit of human health.

By delving deeper into the genetic secrets of these remarkable creatures, researchers aim to unlock innovative solutions to age-old medical challenges, marking a significant milestone in the field of oncology.


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