Interest in the Naked Mole-Rat

A popular science article on rising interest amongst researchers in naked-mole rat biochemistry: "Able to live up to 30 years, these 3 to 4 inch East African critters are being used to study everything from strokes to cancer to aging in hopes that scientists might find new insights into human health complications. ... At the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, researcher Rochelle Buffenstein is responsible for tending a 1,500-member-strong mole rat colony that makes its abode in series of large clear tanks connected by long transparent tubes. Though the San Antonio colony is by far the largest in the U.S., a number of other universities around the country have begun founding their own mole rat communities for research purposes. Despite significant levels of inbreeding within their colonies - a phenomenon that usually tends to weaken genetic integrity and thus decrease longevity - naked mole rats can live to be 30 years old, or more than 15 times longer than the average lab mouse. ... perhaps most the most significant and intriguing oddity displayed by these rodents is their complete resistance to cancer. ... researchers speculated that their immunity to cancer may be attributed to a particular gene known as p16 which prevents cells from growing together in crowded clusters."



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