Meet the new face of anti-aging: the naked mole rat.
These plump, buck-toothed creatures might not be the most aesthetically pleasing Animals.
But according to groundbreaking research, that’s hairless little beasts age healthy, rarely get cancer and are deaf to acid.
Now scientists at the University of Cambridge are trying to use these findings to better treat human diseases and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
“It’s great that medicine can now help people live longer, but unfortunately we’re not very good at dealing with aging Diseases like dementia,” says Professor Ewan St. John Smith, Director of the University of Cambridge’s Naked Mole Rat Initiative.
“If we can understand why naked mole rats don’t actually get these problemsthere is a lot to learn,” he says.
What are naked mole rats?
According to the Naked Mole Rat Initiative, naked mole rats resemble “an elongated cocktail sausage with large, protruding teeth.” Their information page also refers to the animals as “ugly naked guys”.
Its Latin name is Heterocephalus glaber – which translates to “different-headed bald thing”.
That creatures – the world’s only known cold-blooded mammals – chirp like a bird and dig with their teeth.
As bees and termites, they live in large colonies dominated by a single breeding female. About 80 mole rats can live together in these underground burrows.
your unusual habitat may explain their immunity to acid, Smith explains.
“Our research has identified a genetic variation in naked mole rats that means acid acts like an anesthetic on their nerves,” he says.
“We think this is because in the wild these animals live in large underground colonies, where their exhaled carbon dioxide accumulates and reacts with moisture to form carbonic acid.
“That led to them evolving so that acid doesn’t cause them pain and they can stay safely in their burrows.”
Why don’t naked mole rats age or get cancer?
Naked mole rats are an aging anomaly.
Ordinary brown rats live about two years. Mole rats are similar in size and shape—yet they can live more than three decades.
The oldest known mole died at the venerable age of 39.
That Animals not only live long – they also keep their appearance. It’s difficult for researchers to tell a three-year-old rat from a 30-year-old rat.
“When I was 38, I met a 37-year-old naked mole rat,” says Smith.
“I had graying hair and wrinkles on my face, but the mole looked great!”
They age “healthily” and usually die with others animal kill them in a fight, not because they get sick.
Mole rats don’t seem to get cancer either – few cases have ever been detected. Other small animals like mice are even more susceptible to cancer than humans.
The research team predicts that mutations in naked mole rat DNA could occur more slowly than in mouse and human DNA. This could have implications for human medical treatment.
“Once we understand more, we can apply that knowledge to helping pets or people with issues like inflammatory pain, arthritis, and cancer,” says Smith.