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Chernobyl's mutant wolves have developed a resistance to cancer

By T.K. Randall
February 18, 2024 · Comment icon 4 comments
Grey wolves.
Wolves are thriving around Chernobyl. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Ronnie Macdonald
The wildlife that still frequents the Chernobyl exclusion zone seems to have undergone some unusual biological changes.
On April 26th, 1986, the catastrophic accident that befell the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine would not only expose thousands of people to dangerous levels of radiation, but also leave the whole area uninhabitable for thousands of years.

The incident would go on to become ingrained in popular culture, not only as one of the worst disasters of the modern age but also as a symbol of the dangers of nuclear power.

Photographs of the abandoned city of Pripyat - complete with its dilapidated tower blocks and empty Ferris wheel - have become synonymous with the disaster and its impact on the surrounding area.

But while humans have stayed away, the local wildlife seems to have been doing surprisingly well.

Now according to a new study, grey wolves that have made the area around the nuclear reactor their home seem to have developed adaptations enabling them to thrive despite the radiation exposure.
To find out more, evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist Dr Cara Love of Princeton University attached radio collars to some of the wolves to learn about their movements.

The findings suggested that the wolves are exposed to over six times the legal radiation safety limit for a human every day of their lives.

What's more, the animals appear to have altered immune systems similar to what might be found in a human undergoing radiation treatment.

Dr Love also discovered that parts of the wolves' genetic information was particularly resilient to cancer.

This is important because studying such protective mutations could one day help scientists develop preventative treatments in humans.

Source: Sky News | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Alchopwn 3 months ago
Pretty much everyone alive from back in USSR times from the general region has a thyroid removal scar these days.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Hawken 3 months ago
I always hear of someone dying of cancer. I've had classmates die of it and they were just middle age. I've read where 7 countries exploded over 2,000 nuclear bombs on land and sea from 1945-98. All that radiation getting in the winds and currents can get to populated areas.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Shadowsfall 3 months ago
If true science must surely do what they can to eradicate this dreadful disease….?  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jon the frog 2 months ago
A wolve have an average lifespan between 6 and 8 years. So during that life time, the risk of dying from cancer is probably less than other causes and they would accumulate way less than a human during 70 years in the region.

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