Unsurprisingly, the answer comes down to genes. We’ve known for decades now that the gene that codes for a protein called p53 is a critical tumor suppressor. The protein directs the body’s response against damaged DNA and prevents these cells—whose mutations could otherwise confer an ability to proliferate uncontrollably—from dividing. Problems with p53 helps give rise to many different forms of cancer, affecting the brain, colon, liver, bone, and other body parts. We’ve also known for a few years now that while humans only have one copy of the p53 gene, elephants have a staggering 20, which would help make the cell system much more sensitive to damaged DNA, and prioritize a cell’s death over trying to repair that damaged genetic code. Elephants are bringing a genetic gun to a cancer knife-fight.