Update: Study finds chemical behind cancer resistance in naked mole rats

Posted on June 21, 2013
Naked mole rats are subterranean rodents that have never been known to get cancer. Credit: Brandon Vick/ University of Rochester

Naked mole rats are subterranean rodents that have never been known to get cancer. Credit: Brandon Vick/ University of Rochester

Two researchers at the University of Rochester have discovered the chemical that makes naked mole rats cancer-proof. Their research paper will be published this week in the journal Nature.

The findings could eventually lead to new cancer treatments in people, said study authors Andrei Seluanov and Vera Gorbunova.

Naked mole rats are small, hairless, subterranean rodents that have never been known to get cancer, despite having a 30-year lifespan. The research group led by Seluanov and Gorbunova discovered that these rodents are protected from cancer because their tissues are very rich with high molecular weight hyaluronan (HMW-HA).

The biologists’ focus on HMW-HA began after they noticed that a gooey substance in the naked mole rat culture was clogging the vacuum pumps and tubing. They also observed that, unlike the naked mole rat culture, other media containing cells from humans, mice, and guinea pigs were not viscous.

“We needed to understand what the goo was,” said Seluanov.

Gorbunova and Seluanov identified the substance as HMW-HA, which caused them to test its possible role in naked mole rat’s cancer resistance.

Read more at: Phys.org