Members of the subclass of fishes collectively known as elasmobranchs (Class Chondrichthyes, Subclass Elasmobranchii) include sharks, skates, rays, guitarfish, and sawfish. Having diverged from the main line of vertebrate evolution some 400 million years ago, these fishes have continued to be successful in our ever-changing oceans. Much of their success must be attributed to their uncanny ability to remain healthy. Based on decades of basic research, some of their secrets may be very close to benefitting man. In this short review, some of the molecular and cellular biological areas that show promise for potential human applications are presented. With a brief background and current status of relevant research, these topics include development of new antibiotics and novel treatments for cancer, macular degeneration, viral pathogens, and Parkinson’s disease; potentially useful genomic information from shark transcriptomes; shark antibody-derived drug delivery systems; and immune cell-derived compounds as potential cancer therapeutic agents.
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