Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover how underground rodent wards off cancer

06.11.2012
Second mole rat species has different mechanism for resisting cancer

A blind mole rat is shown on the background of dying necrotic blind mole rat cells.

Credit: University of Rochester

Biologists at the University of Rochester have determined how blind mole rats fight off cancer—and the mechanism differs from what they discovered three years ago in another long-lived and cancer-resistant mole rat species, the naked mole rat.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Vera Gorbunova and Assistant Professor Andrei Seluanov, found that abnormally growing cells in blind mole rats secrete the interferon beta protein, which causes those cells to rapidly die. Seluanov and Gorbunova hope the discovery will eventually help lead to new cancer therapies in humans. Their findings are being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Blind mole rats and naked mole rats—both subterranean rodents with long life spans—are the only mammals never known to develop cancer. Three years ago, Seluanov and Gorbunova determined the anti-cancer mechanism in the naked mole rat. Their research found that a specific gene—p16—makes the cancerous cells in naked mole rats hypersensitive to overcrowding, and stops them from proliferating when too many crowd together.

"We expected blind mole rats to have a similar mechanism for stopping the spread of cancerous cells," said Seluanov. "Instead, we discovered they've evolved their own mechanism."

Gorbunova and Seluanov made their discovery by isolating cells from blind mole rats and forcing them to proliferate in culture beyond what occurs in the animal. After dividing approximately 15-20 times, all of the cells in the culture dish died rapidly. The researchers determined that the rapid death occurred because the cells recognized their pre-cancerous state and began secreting a suicidal protein, called interferon beta. The precancerous cells died by a mechanism which kills both abnormal cells and their neighbors, resulting in a "clean sweep."

"Not only were the cancerous cells killed off, but so were the adjacent cells, which may also be prone to tumorous behavior," said Seluanov.

"While people don't use the same cancer-killing mechanism as blind mole rats, we may be able to combat some cancers and prolong life, if we could stimulate the same clean sweep reaction in cancerous human cells," said Gorbunova.

The research team also included Christopher Hine, Xiao Tian, and Julia Ablaeva in Rochester, Andrei Gudkov at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, and Eviatar Nevo at the University of Haifa in Israel.

Gorbunova and Seluanov say they next want to find out exactly what triggers the secretion of interferon beta after cancerous cells begin proliferating in blind mole rats.

Gorbunova believes the anti-cancer mechanism is an adaptation to subterranean life. "Blind mole rats spend their lives in underground burrows protected from predators," said Gorbunova. "Living in this environment, they could perhaps afford to evolve a long lifespan, which includes developing efficient anti-cancer defenses."

Peter Iglinski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists describe mechanism promoting multiple DNA mutations
31.07.2014 | University of Iowa

nachricht U-M researchers find protein that fuels repair of treatment-resistant cancer cells
31.07.2014 | University of Michigan

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Counting down to FEBS-EMBO 2014 in Paris, France

29.07.2014 | Event News

9th European Wood-Based Panel Symposium 2014 – meeting point for the wood-based material branch

24.07.2014 | Event News

“Lens on Life” - Artists and Scientists Explore Cell Divison

08.07.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Watching Schrödinger's cat die (or come to life)

31.07.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA Catches Two Tropical Troublemakers in Northwestern Pacific: Halong and 96W

31.07.2014 | Earth Sciences

U-M researchers find protein that fuels repair of treatment-resistant cancer cells

31.07.2014 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>