Genome sequence of Cancer-Resistant Blind Mole Rat Available

Published Date : Jun 05, 2014

Sequencing the genome of the blind mole rat helps to study its cancer-resisting property.

Blind mole rat is a mammal which has skin over its eyes, lives underground, and digs with its teeth. It is closely related to the common house mouse and distantly related to the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber). Earlier studies proved that the naked mole rat exhibits remarkable resistance to cancer.

The blind mole rat can live for more than 20 years and its underground habitat consists of very little amount of oxygen with no light and a lot of dirt.

A study performed on blind mole rats explained that the genetic structure of this species is responsible for its cancer-resistant mechanism. According to the researchers, this special mechanism is found in blind mole rats as a part of evolution to sustain themselves underground without vision and low oxygen.

Another research shows that these mammals don’t develop a tumor, even if they are exposed to carcinogenic elements. In animals when cells detect a cancerous malfunction, the cells shut themselves down which can result in a tumor. However, in case of the blind mole rat, its immune system attacks the tumor.

The study on genome of blind mole rat was done by a large team of researchers from different countries. A researcher stated that when the whole genome is available, it makes studying the blind mole rat for its cancer resistance, medical challenges, and adaptation to low oxygen much more efficient.

Another researcher said that now since the complete genome is available for study, it will be easier for researchers to find out more about the genetic structure of this mammal and its potential applications for humans.