Can Naked Mole Rats Cure Cancer and Alzheimer's?
I happened to catch an episode of Science Friday on the radio on Friday where Ira Glass interviewed Dr. Rochelle Buffenstein, Senior Principal Investigator at Calico on her many years studying naked mole rats. While Naked mole rats are fascinating subterranean mammals that can live up to 30 years and survive without oxygen for 18 minutes, some new research makes them even more amazing.
Apparently Naked Mole Rats are nearly immune to cancer and Alzheimer's Disease. Research indicates that a combination of cellular mechanisms and a low-oxygen environment might contribute to the low incidence of cancer in the species. And it appears the Alzheimer's-causing plaques found in the Naked Mole Rat's brain are less sticky than those found in humans, making them immune to Alzheimer's disease and the difficult symptoms that come with it.
Can we hope that these "cute" little critters help pave the way for some real advancements in human Cancer and Alzheimer's research?