Naked Mole Rat Genome May Hold Key to Longevity
The newly deciphered genome of the naked mole rat, known for its longevity and resistance to cancer, may help researchers improve human health, according to a new study.
"They are very odd, they are really freaky and they have a lot of really interesting specializations," study researcher and naked mole rat enthusiast Thomas Park, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, told LiveScience. "We are working to understand how they come to have these very interesting characteristics. Having the genome gives us a whole new armory of ways in which we can approach this."
Using clues from the genome, such as unique life traits, behaviors, and social characteristics, scientists can learn more about evolution and could even help design better treatments for human disease, such as stroke and cancer, or even possibly find the fountain of youth, according to LiveScience.
To read the genome, the team of international researchers used a method called shotgun sequencing. They read long strings of chemical bases that the DNA is made of. The researchers then lined them up to find the where they overlapped, creating longer strings until they covered the full genome.
After getting a complete genome, the researchers compared it with the genomes of humans and mice. They looked for any significantly different genes. Changes in those genes could tell us why some mammals live longer or are resistant to certain diseases.