Shark Research Could Cure Cancer

Photo: Brian Skerry/
They rarely get cancer. Their wounds heal much faster than humans’. Their unique skin makes for a low-drag glide through the water that engineers envy. Scientists say sharks have much to teach us: from how we treat illnesses to how to make better ships, undersea robots or even swim suits.

The Daily Catch™

But despite the huge popularity of sharks as research subjects, the wonders of their physiology and behavior remain mostly a mystery.

Among the more notable “holy grails” of ongoing shark inquiry:

• Ship building. Boat makers marvel at how sharks have incredibly low drag relative to other fish, a hydrodynamics enabled by scales that resemble tiny backwards-pointing shark teeth. Something in their skin mucus also keeps sharks free of barnacles and other so-called “biofouling.” Shipbuilders hope to mimic similar engineering and “anti-fouling” feats so fleets can save on fuel.

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