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October 29, 2009

Scientists Discover Gene that 'Cancer-Proofs' Rodent's Cells

"Despite a 30-year lifespan that gives ample time for cells to grow cancerous, a small rodent species called a naked mole rat has never been found with tumors of any kind—and now biologists at the University of Rochester think they know why.

"The findings, presented in today's issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [October 27], show that the mole rat's cells express a gene called p16 that makes the cells "claustrophobic," stopping the cells' proliferation when too many of them crowd together, cutting off runaway growth before it can start. The effect of p16 is so pronounced that when researchers mutated the cells to induce a tumor, the cells' growth barely changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous."

Read more in University of Rochester press release, October 27, 2009.