Researchers discover another reason for the naked mole rats' long, cancer-free life

A new international study has identified clues concerning the cellular processes that contribute to the naked mole rat’s resistance to cancer.

Cancer is rife in the animal kingdom. For many, the mortality rate is similar or even higher to that suffered by humans.

Cancer occurs when a seemingly normal cell spirals out of control. Usually, damaged or defective cells are destroyed, but occasionally one will keep proliferating, creating more and more rogue cells. The eventual result is a tumour.

The more cells an organism has and the longer it lives, the more likely it is that one of its cells will succumb to a random cancer-causing mutation. However there are exceptions.

Natural defence mechanism

The naked mole rat (NMR) is an exceptionally long-lived and cancer-resistant rodent native to East Africa. NMRs have a natural defence mechanism against cancer. After several decades of observation, very few naked mole rats have been observed developing tumours.

In the new study an international collaboration of scientists, including researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease (IACD), studied NMRs to see if the rodents exhibit an anticancer mechanism called cellular senescence and, if so, how the mechanism might work differently


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