Cancer cells self-destruct in blind mole rats | Science News

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Cancer cells self-destruct in blind mole rats

Underground rodents evolved a way to zap mutating tissue

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6:03pm, November 5, 2012

Subterranean rodents with no eyes may show scientists a new way to beat cancer.

Blind mole rats — solitary, tunnel-dwelling cousins of rats and mice — live a long time and don’t get cancer. Biologists thought the animals probably avoided the disease through the same strategy seen in naked mole rats, another long-lived subterranean rodent related to guinea pigs. In those animals, a cell-death program turns on when cells get overcrowded, as might happen in a tumor.

But it turns out that blind mole rats have their own way of dealing with tumors, one that stems from adaptation to an underground lifestyle in which oxygen is scarce, researchers from New York and Israel report online November 5 in the

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