It has been almost thirty-eight years since the region hosting the Chernobyl power plant was emptied of its inhabitants. But stray dogs and wild animals thrive there despite the radioactivity. A team from the American University of Princeton, which studied wolves from Chernobyl, found that the animals had mutated and in doing so may have become resistant to an “increased risk of cancer”.
Seven times more wolves than neighboring regions
This was shared by evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist Cara Love of Shane Campbell-Statten’s laboratory during a conference on January 10, TF1 Infos reported. By studying these cases, it can help humans fight this deadly disease, said a press release shared on January 5.
The Chernobyl region is very hospitable to wildlife. Humans are no more, animals are taking their ease. There are seven times more wolves than neighboring regions. So the scientists thought of studying how they were able to adapt. To do this, in 2014, they placed GPS collars equipped with radiation dosimeters on wild wolves. They also took blood samples.
The radiation is six times more than the norm
Ten years later, a team of scientists provided the results. Wolves can survive up to six times the radiation permitted for human workers. According to Cara Love, who has not yet published the results but gave a presentation, the immunity of Chernobyl wolves is similar to that of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Scientists have “identified specific regions of the wolf genome that counteract increased cancer risk,” the release said.
This seems like good news, because the wolf is close to the dog. The latter is also very present on the Chernobyl side. However, dogs, like rats, tend to fight cancer just like humans. With continued research, it may be possible to investigate how genetic mutations can increase the chances of surviving cancer.