Today's issue begins with a small rodent. I was reading an article today about the Naked Mole Rat, and had to re-post this issue from my Facebook years.
Naked Mole Rats are immune to cancer. They have an additional gene to prevent cell growth. In addition, naked mole rats cannot feel pain because they lack a neurotransmitter that other mammals have called Substance P that sends pain signals to the brain. They also are one of the only mammals known to be eusocial; they live underground in colonies with a queen like ants and bees. They mostly eat tubers (like potatoes) and their own feces, and they live very long lives spanning 3 decades!
Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes explains:
"The naked mole-rat has fascinated scientists for many years, but it wasn't until a few years ago that we discovered that it could live for such a long period of time. It is not much bigger than a mouse, which normally lives up to four years, and yet this particular underground rodent lives for three decades in good health. It is an interesting example of how much we still have to learn about the mechanisms of aging.
"We aim to use the naked mole-rat genome to understand the level of resistance it has to disease, particularly cancer, as this might give us more clues as to why some animals and humans are more prone to disease than others. With this work, we want to establish the naked mole-rat as the first model of resistance to chronic diseases of aging."