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Secret Behind Cancer Resistance And Longevity Of Naked Mole Rats

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There are a number of interesting facts about naked mole rats, which are natives to East Africa.

Of the many interesting facts about naked mole rats, their long cancer-free life has puzzled researchers. The lifespan of naked mole rats is 10-30 years, while its cousins - rat and mice- can live only up to 4 years, and are very prone to tumors.

University of Rochester biology professors Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, and postdoctoral associate Yang Zhao have found a new piece of the puzzle for the longevity and cancer resistance of these buck-toothed rodents.

The researchers wanted to know if the cells of naked mole rats experience cellular senescence or if they are evolved to get rid of cell senescence.

Cellular senescence, a fundamental aging mechanism, is a state in which cells can no longer divide. So, when cells are not able to divide, there is no chance of developing cancer. Because, only when cell division goes wrong, it leads to cancer and other diseases. Although helpful in young organisms to prevent cancer, senescence is thought to accelerate ageing.

So, is eliminating senescence actually the key to preventing or reversing age-related diseases, namely cancer?

No.

The researchers have found that despite its exceptional longevity, the cells of naked mole rats do exhibit cellular senescence similar to that of mouse cells, but only that they are also able to more strongly inhibit the metabolic process of the senescent cells, which contributes to their cancer resistance and longevity.

Zhao, one of the study authors, says, "Although evolution of a long life span does not eliminate senescence, the more structured response to senescence may have an evolutionary basis. We believe there was some strategy during the evolution of naked mole rats that allowed them to have more systematic changes in their genes and have more orchestrated pathways being regulated. We believe this is beneficial for longevity and cancer resistance."

by RTT Staff Writer

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