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Naked mole rat may hold cancer cure clues

Published on 21/06/2013

A small rodent that never develops cancer could prove vital to scientists trying to prevent malignant tumours, say US researchers.

Naked mole-rats can live up to 30 years old

Recent studies show that a naturally sugary substance found in the skin cells of these naked mole-rats may stop tumours developing. If scientists could replicate this or develop a similar process in humans it could lead to new human cancer therapies.

The report was published in Nature journal and was led by a team of researchers from University of Rochester, New York. Their investigation was led by Andrei Seluanov and Vera Gorbunova and focused on the anti-cancer properties of the naked-mole rate.

Dr Gorbunova spoke to BBC News: "Studying animals that are naturally cancer-resistant can be very rewarding and can lead to discovery of mechanisms that can benefit humans in terms of treatment and prevention of cancer."

Some health insurance policies can include comprehensive cancer care that can give you access to the latest drugs and treatment that are not always available on the NHS.

This substance found in the tissue of these rodents is a gooey sugar that is currently used to relieve pain in arthritis and as cosmetic remedy to treat wrinkles.

Experiments indicated that the rats lost their cancer-repelling qualities when the substance, known as high molecular weight hyaluronan (HMW-HA).

Dr Seluanov added: "There's indirect evidence that HMW-HA would work in people. It's used in anti-wrinkle injections and to relieve pain from arthritis in knee joints, without any adverse effects.

"Our hope is that it can also induce an anti-cancer response."

Olive Childs, spokesman of Cancer Research UK, said: “This fascinating research builds on previous work revealing the biological tricks mole-rats have evolved to prevent cancer.

"It's a long way off, but it will be interesting to see if further research can find a way to use hyaluronan to help prevent or treat cancer in humans."

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013

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