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Radio Canada: Zoos contribute data that leads to new findings in cancer research

In February, Radio Canada science reporter Gino Harel talked with Fernando Colchera, Species360 and SDU, about the recent use of zoo and aquarium data, via the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), in new cancer research discoveries regarding the incidence of cancer in mammals.

Harel previously covered the role of zoos and aquariums in contributing data essential to science in 2019, and has continued to follow the Species360 community.

Here is an excerpt from the broadcast:

Gino Harel, Reporter: “…(The) validation of Peto’s paradox was indeed one of the research objectives of the authors of the study. Out of 191 species of mammals, work that was recently published in the journal Nature, they compiled information on 110,000 animals from a database that I’ve already told you about on the show called the Zoological Information Management System, or ZIMS for short. ZIMS is managed by Species360 and has several components.

For the study, researchers from Species360 and the CNRS in France focused on data from the 1,200 zoos and aquariums that contributed. They were particularly interested in animals that had died of cancer. One of the authors of the study, Fernando Colchero, is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Southern Denmark. He specializes in population dynamics. Fernando Colchero is also the lead statistician at Species360. Here he explains the type of data they analyzed.”

Fernando Colchero, Ph.D., Species360 and University of Southern Denmark Department of Mathematics and Computer Science: “To be able to do this kind of analysis of cancer incidence, we need to do reconstructions of survival with age, and that’s why we need to know not only which individuals died and had necropsies, but also which individuals survived and which individuals died of other causes. So the database is set up in such a way that all zoos enter the data in the same way, which allows us to make comparisons between zoos. So the advantage here is that the only thing we had to do was to really just use the data we needed.”

Learn more about the cancer study and its findings here. Read the full study at the journal Nature.

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