Friday, June 21, 2013

Naked mole rats do not get cancer!

Naked mole rats (Heterocephalus glaber) has suddenly become very interesting! Mole rats bodies contain a substance called Hyaluronan, which acts as a lubricant for soft tissues. Humans apparently also have this polysaccharide, but it is composed differently and present in the human body in much smaller concentrations. Doctors already use human Hyaluronan for arthritis, chronic knee problems, and eye surgery. The most exciting new discovery is that naked mole rats do not seem to get cancer and Hyaluronan is credited with preventing it! Wouldn't it be great if we could find out a way to prevent or treat cancer with this substance? (but please don't harvest naked mole rats to do it!)

Here are some quick facts about mole rats:

The naked mole rat is found in arid areas of East Africa. They live in colonies with complex family structures.
Size relative to a tea cup:
Illustration: Mole rat compared with tea cup
Here is more information about naked mole rats.

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