Ever wonder how much you have in common with a sea sponge? Probably not. Probably assume “not much.” Well, it turns out 70% of your DNA is the same as theirs.
Apparently, Australian scientists have determined this after completing the genetic sequencing of sea sponges from the Great Barrier Reef.
The real good news (for humans) is that this may help us to better understand and reduce cancer.
[T]he DNA shared between humans and sea sponges includes many that are typically associated with disease and cancer — and lead researcher Bernard Degnan of the University of Queensland says this means the potential for new breakthroughs in cancer and stem cell research.
Lead researcher of the study Bernard Degnan, from the University of Queensland, says: “Sponges have what’s (considered) the ‘Holy Grail’ of stem cells.” Examining their stem cells “might actually inform the way we think about our own stem cells and how we might be able to use them in future medical applications,” Degnan notes.
Protecting these threatened creatures of the ocean is worthwhile for their sake, and for the sake of the ecosystems they are a part of, but hopefully this new twist will convince those who have a hard time seeing their intirinsic and systemic value that they are also valuable for medical research that benefits humans.
Photo Credit: robynejay via flickr