Naked mole rats may hold key to treating cancer and dementia

The hairless, buck-toothed, and cold-blooded naked mole rat is an unusual animal. It grows to between 3 and 13 inches in length and lives in a complex underground tunnel system beneath the deserts and grasslands of east Africa.

Despite its unusual appearance, the naked mole rat’s most curious feature is its longevity. These animals can live for over 30 years, far beyond the lifespan of other rodents. And seemingly, without the physiological deterioration that affects most older animals.

Scientists now believe that this apparent immunity to aging may hold the secret to preventing and treating aging-related diseases, such as dementia or cancer, in humans.

Despite their relatively small size, naked mole rats are incredibly hardy. Researchers have studied thousands of these rodents and have rarely, if ever, found them to have cancerTrusted Source. They are also resistant to some types of pain, including pain from insect bites or eating toxic plants, and can survive for up to 18 minutes without oxygen.

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