Cancer Cells in Blind Mole Rats ‘commit suicide’

Posted on November 6, 2012  Comments (3)

Cancer cells in blind mole rats ‘commit suicide’

Blind mole rats don’t get cancer, and geneticists have worked out why — their cells kill themselves with a poisonous protein when they multiply too much.

Blind mole rats, which live in underground burrows throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, and the Middle East, are fascinating creatures. The naked mole rat, in particular, is the only cold-blooded mammal known to man, doesn’t experience pain, and is also arguably the only mammal (along with the Damaraland mole rat) to demonstrate eusociality — that is, they live in large hierarchical communities with a queen and workers, like ants or bees.

They’re also cancer-proof, which was found in 2011 to be down to a gene that stops cancerous cells from forming. The same team thought that two other cancer-proof mole rat species might have similar genes, but instead it turns out that they do develop cancerous cells — it’s just that those cells are programmed to destroy themselves if they become dangerous.

Very interesting research. The results of evolution are amazing. And while turning the medical research discoveries into workable treatments for people is very difficult the continued increase in our knowledge helps us find treatments that work.

Related: Webcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous CellSynthetic Biologists Design a Gene that Forces Cancer Cells to Commit Suicide

3 Responses to “Cancer Cells in Blind Mole Rats ‘commit suicide’”

  1. Jim Bennett
    November 7th, 2012 @ 1:00 am

    This is a very intriguing article. Just further proof that Darwin knew what he was theorizing about!

  2. Eliot Pearson
    November 8th, 2012 @ 8:20 am

    The poisonous protein sounds like it has a lot of potential applications. This is definitely cool stuff here.

  3. Rameshwor
    June 4th, 2013 @ 4:47 am

    I wish human cancer cells suicide themselves too. Looks like this is pretty old article, did the research go any further at this date? Please update, its going to be interesting to know any advancement.

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