When life gives naked mole rats lemons, the wrinkled, buck-toothed rodents probably don’t care. They are impervious to the sting of acid.
But scientists in Berlin are onto the secret of the social rodents’ acid insensitivity. Naked mole rats’ acid sensors work just fine, but a protein responsible for relaying messages about acid’s presence to the nervous system is easily blocked by the same positively charged hydrogen ions that lend substances acidity, researchers report in the Dec. 16 Science. The discovery may give researchers clues about where to target drugs that could relieve pain associated with inflammation.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.