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Immune system.

  1. Jan 19, 2006 #1
    From what i remember. Sharks have near perfect immune systems.

    my question. Why dont scientists try to figure out genetically how this works and try to incorporate it into our immune system.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2006 #2
    Scientists have found out a lot about immune deficiencies in humans. However incorporation of genes known to be helpful, termed gene therapy", is not very consistent and reliable. This means that changing genes is very difficult. Also a single gene, as important as it maybe, is not usually solely responsible for phenotypes or the physical physiological result. A gene is a participant in a genetic circuit and the way it interacts with other gene products in a spatial (cell to cell, compartment to compartment) and temporal (different developmental states) manner are not yet understood.
  4. Jan 21, 2006 #3


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    You don't have to go to gene-therapy, you could also think of medication based treatments.

    Munky, why do you think that sharks have near perfect immune systems?

    I do know that they lack some kind of disease, because they cannot make bone out of cartilige. In humans that disease does exist, with every injury they convert cartilige to bone and end up losing flexibility. The scientists turned to sharks to understand the phenomenon, I forgot what the outcome was.
  5. Jan 21, 2006 #4
    Well i remember watching a show on the discovery channel, it was like shark week. and in the show the commentator said that this shark is 4 years old and has never been sick. and then went on about how sharks immune systems are very very good.

    Since then ive also read that sharks are very well shielded against cancer. and things like anthrax and such things that should kill sharks doesnt.

    As for
    well i dunno, this might be sci-fi but what about using a virus that is recoded to do the gene therapy.
  6. Jan 23, 2006 #5


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    From what I have read, sharks do have an immune system that is rather similar to ours and sometime touted as "better", however there are some significant differences bwteen our two species. Most sharks have two additional organs that are believed to be part of their specialized immune system. These two organs are the epigonal organ and Leydig's organ. Little research as been done regarding the full function of these organs, but they appear to be involved in leucocyte formation and T-cell maturation/differentiation. It makes sense that their immune system is different since elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, rays) do not have bones which are the site for production of blood and immune cells in other animals. As far as making humans systems more like sharks and potentially benefiting from such a change, it's unlikely it would work. To begin with, the shark in general is very different from other fishes, let alone humans. As mentioned in this thread they are cartilaginous fish and have no calcium-based bones, they do not have swim bladders but rather use large lipid deposits in the liver to maintain bouyancy. Waste generation and ion-balance is handled very differently in sharks than it is in other marine fish. It is probably a critical mass achieved by all these characteristics that leads the shark to have a "better" immune system than humans. We would be more likely to gain from studies that examine the shark's systems and develop therapies/medicines that we can then adapt/use to benefit human health.
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