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Treatments used to fight cancer in people successfully halted tumor growth in sea turtles, according to a study published June 7, 2018 in Communications Biology.

The discovery not only helps sea turtles, it may also help researchers better understand human cancers.

Sea turtles treated with anti-cancer drugs dramatically reduced tumor regrowth. Around the world, turtles have become infected with fibropapilomatosis, a virulent cancerous disease that causes large tumors.

"The most exciting thing is being able to prove that we can indeed uncover the secrets and mysteries of these sea turtle tumors using human oncology techniques. It gives us the ability to quickly understand the disease and identify new ways of treating and rehabilitating turtle patients," study co-author Mark Martindale, director of the Whitney Laboratory at the University of Florida, said.

The research is an example of the One Health initiative, where interdisciplinary research benefits both human and animal health.

Additionally, the study revealed cues about the spread of the disease, including a possible link to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

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