Can "goo" from naked mole rat fight cancer?
Not only does the naked mole live an unusually long life—up to 30 years—but there’s also no evidence that the rodent ever gets cancer. Scientists from the University of Rochester believe this is tied to a chemical in the "goo" of the rat's skin, which may have anti-cancer properties. And they think that it could lead to the development of cancer treatments for humans.
In 2009, the researchers identified a tumor suppressor gene called p16 in the rats that can stop cancer before it starts. In the new study, the team analyzed the gooey substance produced by the naked mole rat's skin, and learned that it is rich in a sugary material called high molecular weight hyaluronon (HMW-HA). This substance helps the rat make tissue and speeds the healing process. The researchers think it also may trigger the anti-cancer response of p16.
Andrei Seluanov, one of the lead authors of the study, sees no reason that these properties cannot work in humans, as well. "There's indirect evidence that HMW-HA would work in people," he said. "It's used in anti-wrinkle injections and to relieve pain from arthritis in knee joints, without any adverse effects. Our hope is that it can also induce an anti-cancer response."