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November 7 2012

Blind mole rats may hold key to cancer


Rodents' cells commit mass suicide when overcrowded, preventing uncontrollable proliferation.

There's more than one way for long-lived subterranean rodents to avoid cancer, and they might hold cellular clues to effective treatments in humans.

Cell cultures from two species of blind mole rat, Spalax judaei and Spalax golani, behave in ways that render them impervious to the growth of tumours, according to work by Vera Gorbunova at the University of Rochester in New York and her colleagues1. And the creatures seem to have evolved a different way of doing this from that observed in their better known and similarly cancer-resistant cousin, the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber).

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