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Texas A&M University's James Womack and his collaborators at Seoul National University in South Korea found something unexpected when analyzing the sequences genomes of 62 White Leghorn chickens and 53 Cornish chickens, says the International Science Times' Chelsea Whyte. They found two genetic variants of NK-lysin — which the animals produce to fight off bacterial and other diseases — that seem to fight cancer. The study, which is published in PNAS, shows that when synthesized into peptides and exposed to bacterial cultures and cancer cells, one of the variants was more aggressive at fighting cancer than the other. But the entire discovery "took all of us by surprise," Womack says in a statement. He adds that the next step is to see if these variants also exist in other animals like cattle, and whether the discovery could lead to a new way of fighting cancer.

The Scan

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