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 tumours of any kind — and now biologists at the University of Rochester think they know why. The findings 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 tumour, the cells’ growth barely changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous

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