UW Health using sharks as cancer research

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT)- There are some new residents on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, but they aren’t students, they’re sharks.

Researchers at UW Health are using sharks as a new way to look at cancer research.

In 2021, the UW Carbone Cancer Center was able to provide the necessary equipment, including the shark tank.

Shark-based cancer research is currently the only research of its kind worldwide.

Researchers are currently investigating if and how tiny proteins called VNARs can be used to treat devastating cancers such as breast, colon, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.

“And so just by chance by accident, they found that sharks have very similar antibody and then from there, people started to study these antibodies to see what they could do,” said lead researcher, Aaron LeBeau.

Other marine animals such as sharks, skates, and rays have similar antibody structures to llamas and alpacas, and LeBeau suspected they could someday play a role in cancer research as well.