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Why Can't Naked Mole Rats Get Cancer?

According to a study done by the University of Rochester in 2013, naked mole rats do not get cancer because they have complex sugars that prevent cells from clumping and turning into cancerous tumors.

Naked mole rats were selected for the study because they live very long, about 30 years, and do not seem to get cancer. The study revealed that the reason cells do not clump in naked mole rats is due to a complex sugar called hyaluronan in the extracellular matrix, the space between cells.

The study set off discussions about the possibility of altering hyaluronan sugars in humans or using this specific gene from naked more rats in the fight against cancer.

More about naked mole rats:

  • The naked mole rat is a type of rodent which lives in burrows in soil. It spends most of its life in darkness.

  • Contrary to popular belief, naked mole rats are not blind and they are not exactly hairless; they have very thin hairs that help them with navigation.

  • Naked mole rats have a social structure similar to some insects. There are worker and fighter naked mole rats, and a queen who is the only one who breeds.

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