The Scientific Indian

Shark has a perfect immune system?

I was at the hospital the other day for our daughter’s vaccination. On a TV mounted on the wall, a lady in white lab coat was explaining how massaging the baby increases skin tone (it doesn’t). Being a new parent, I was paying careful attention to gather useful information and there seemed to be some of it forthcoming from the TV.

i-871cd9b1379a45de79c3c83bf5975bb1-250px-Oceanic_Whitetip_Shark.jpg Immediately after lady peddling the baby oil went away, this appeared on the screen: Did you know that Sharks do not get any disease because they have a perfect immune system? What? I was taken aback by this enthusiastic display of stupidity for wider public consumption without regard for that quality we call intelligence. A closer look at the TV made me realize that this wasn’t a NHS video promoting baby health as I had implicitly assumed but a commercial channel (Virgin’s Baby TV). Clearly, the programming team of this channel could use someone in their team who has more than two brain cells.

So, what’s with the sharks being immune to all diseases and all. From my meager knowledge of how the world works, I am quite sure a perfect immunity is impossible. I am reminded of the impossibility of it every time I sneeze. There are viruses and bacteria that keep evolving and there is no way a lumbering colossus like a Shark can evolve its immune system as quickly as the nimble little attackers evolve their weapons. When I looked up, the origins of this myth seems to be this: Sharks have been around for 400 million years and they are one of the very first to evolve an immune system. So, apparently, the thinking goes as an immune system that has served a creature for so long must be very versatile and should be perfect. Well, it ain’t. Sharks get diseases too. They may have some characteristics that we may be able to exploit and there are legitimate scientific studies on shark immune system. But, perfect it is not.

Unsurprisingly enough, during my quick read-up on shark’s immune system, I found many shady websites selling shark oil concoctions promising all sorts of miracles. If you are looking for a perfect immune system, I have news for you. You ain’t gonna get it. So, get over it.

Comments

  1. #1 sparc
    January 22, 2008

    And their immune system doesn’t protect them from cancer, see here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/703082.stm

  2. #2 Dave Briggs
    January 22, 2008

    Unsurprisingly enough, during my quick read-up on shark’s immune system, I found many shady websites selling shark oil concoctions promising all sorts of miracles. If you are looking for a perfect immune system, I have news for you. You ain’t gonna get it. So, get over it.

    Yep,
    Perfect is too strong a word for sure, but I have heard some intriguing things about sharks like they rarely have cancer.
    Dave Briggs :~)

  3. #3 The Ridger
    January 22, 2008

    And even if their immune system was perfect – it would be perfect for them. Consuming shark-based products wouldn’t help an ape at all.

  4. #4 Christophe Thill
    January 23, 2008

    Consuming shark-based products should be about as efficient as injecting someone with wolf blood to turn them into a werewolf. Don’t laugh, it worked in lots of movies.

  5. #5 Alisha
    May 17, 2008

    Wow I mean how more stupid can you get. People are not looking for a perfect immune system. I know several people that take shark cartalidge and they have tumors. After they start taking them the tumors start to shrink. I mean this has to say something. So do your research if you want to try to rant to people.

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