Naked mole rats have long lifespans and exceptional resistance to age-related diseases. By introducing a specific gene responsible for enhanced cellular repair and protection, therefore longevity, from naked mole rats to mice, researchers at the University of Rochester have been able to improve the health and extend the lifespan of mice, as per a release. The transfer of the gene from the naked mole rats to mice led to a nearly 4.4% increase in the median lifespan of the mice. The study was published in Nature.
The gene in question is responsible for making high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA). The researchers previously discovered that HMW-HA is one mechanism responsible for naked mole rats’ unusual resistance to cancer. Compared to mice and humans, naked mole rats have about ten times more HMW-HA in their bodies. When the researchers removed HMW-HA from naked mole rat cells, the cells were more likely to form tumours.
Naked mole rats are mouse-sized rodents that have exceptional longevity for rodents of their size; they can live up to 41 years, nearly ten times as long as similar-size rodents. Unlike many other species, naked mole rats do not often contract diseases — including neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and cancer — as they age.