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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.

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