Posts tagged ‘naked mole rat’

I just come across with this article in Slate Magazine “The Mouse Trap – The dangers of using one lab animal to study every disease.” that talks in great details about the limitation of using animal model to look for new drugs to treat human diseases.  For example, the control healthy mouse can actually be metabolically abnormal because of the way we keep and grow them. A recent paper published in the PNAS has unveiled some of these issues.

Martin B, Ji S, Maudsley S, Mattson MP. “Control” laboratory rodents are metabolically morbid: why it matters. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 6;107(14):6127-33. Epub 2010 Mar 1. PubMed PMID: 20194732; PubMed Central PMCID:  PMC2852022.

And I just notice that this slate article belongs to a series of article, including one that talks about my favorite – naked mole rats.

The Mouse Trap – The Trouble With Black-6A tiny alcoholic takes over the lab.

The Mouse Trap – The Anti-Mouse – Could a hairless African rodent be our secret weapon in the war on cancer?

Naked mole rat from Wikipedia

The genome sequence of the naked mole rat is published recently (Kim et al., 2011) ! This is an amazing creature that lives almost up to 30 years in captivity, 9 times longer than mice. At the same time they do not seem to suffer from cancer or a decline in fertility (Buffenstein 2008).

I have been fascinated by the research on the naked mole rats since I read an research article published by Vera Gorbunova’s group in 2009 (Seluanov et al., 2009). In this study, the authors elucidated the naturally occurred anti-cancer mechanism inside this creature. As it turns out, the cells from the naked mole rat will initiate a program to turn off cell growth as soon as the cells start touching each other in culture, a much earlier response than that in regular rats or mice. The most impressive finding is that this early program that can turn off cell growth actually uses the same cell division control mechanisms as in us, but it is just fine-tuned to respond to growth more sensitively. In the new study that sequenced the genome of the naked mole rat, a number of interesting findings have been found and may reveal other aspects of its longevity and physiology for this success and etc. I will save this for your own personal reading.

I find all these results beautiful and  powerfully remind us how studying our nature can lead to potentially important findings that can “translate” to human health; and how the “traditional” clinical research on human and classical animal models can miss the answer that is already out there.

Extended readings

  1. Buffenstein R. Negligible senescence in the longest living rodent, the naked mole-rat: insights from a successfully aging species. J Comp Physiol B. 2008 May;178(4):439-45. Epub 2008 Jan 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 18180931.
  2. Kim EB et al., Genome sequencing reveals insights into physiology and longevity of the naked mole rat. Nature. 2011 Oct 12. doi: 10.1038/nature10533. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21993625.
  3. Seluanov A et al., Hypersensitivity to contact inhibition provides a clue to cancer resistance of naked mole-rat. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Nov 17;106(46):19352-7. Epub 2009 Oct 26. PubMed PMID: 19858485; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2780760.