The genome of the great white shark has finally been decoded, and it may hold the key to discovering a cure for cancer.

The genome is far bigger than that of a human and containsĀ a plethora of mutations that protect against cancer and other age-related diseases.

It contains an estimated 4.63 billion ‘base pairs’, the chemical units of DNA, making it one-and-a-half times bigger than its human counterpart.

Experts believe the great white genome evolved to be stable and disease resistant and could be key in developing future treatments.

The animal’s genetic code also gives them enhanced wound healing which allows them to recover from severe ailments.

Study co-leader Dr Mahmood Shivji, director of the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, US, said: ‘Genome instability is a very important issue in many serious human diseases.

‘Now we find that nature has developed clever strategies to maintain the stability of genomes in these large-bodied, long-lived sharks.

‘There’s still tons to be learned from these evolutionary marvels, including information that will potentially be useful to fight cancer and age-related diseases, and improve wound healing treatments in humans, as we uncover how these animals do it.’

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