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Kneaders donates $128,000 to cancer research utilizing elephant DNA

January 8, 2019

A favorite Utah bakery is hoping to use cookies to help borrow some of elephants’ wisdom.

Kneaders Bakery and Cafe, headquartered in American Fork, presented a check for $128,000 Monday morning at the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi to go toward cancer research that studies elephant DNA to gain insights into treating and preventing cancer.

“To have support, that is how we are going to move the needle,” said Joshua Schiffman, a pediatric oncologist and childhood cancer researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

The check was presented in front of first grade students from Vista Elementary School from the Granite School District, who were able to visit the museum following the short ceremony.

Schiffman’s research looks into the p53 protein in elephant’s DNA, which may be the key to why elephants rarely develop cancer. Elephants have numerous copies of the cancer-fighting p53 protein in their DNA. Humans have two, and most children with cancer have one.

The hope is that the elephant research will help provide answers about cancer and help foster hope.

“Our view is nature is going to be smarter than people are,” Schiffman said.

He’s been doing the elephant research since 2012 and got connected with Kneaders after the founders’ grandson was diagnosed with lymphoma. Schiffman himself was diagnosed with lymphoma at 15.

“Dr. Schiffman never stops thinking about a way to stop childhood cancer,” James Worthington, the CEO of Kneaders Bakery and Cafe, told a group of children gathered for the check presentation.

Kneaders sells elephant-shaped sugar cookies during September for the Hope Fights Childhood Cancer campaign. The campaign started in 2016 and has raised $450,000 for cancer research.

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