http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org ... premature/
we think some of today’s headlines about research on mole rats have gone too far and give a false impression of a non-existent “breakthrough” towards a cancer “cure”.
First, a general point: despite what countless headlines would have us believe, science and medicine rarely progress though such dramatic ‘breakthroughs’, but rather through the steady, persistent drip-drip of good quality research.
Like water on a stone, this continuous flow of research slowly washes away the mystery, and uncovers new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
Early lab research
More specifically, as far as we can tell, today’s headlines refer to research that was made public in August last year by scientists in Israel (or perhaps to further unpublished work – we can’t tell).
It’s fascinating stuff, but it certainly doesn’t justify claims that “a cure for ALL [emphasis by the Express] cancers is on the way”.
The work is all lab-based and shows mole rats are resistant to things that would normally cause cancer in mice and other rodents. It also shows human cancer cells grown in the lab alongside mole rat cells – or treated with extracts from the cells – are killed off.
That’s all great. But the research is still very far from being developed into a treatment for people, let alone a cure for all cancers.
We love to see interesting research being discussed in the media. And lots of the lab work on blind mole rats and naked mole rats is genuinely intriguing.
But we’re concerned such overblown headlines could give cancer patients false hope of a wonder treatment that’s just around the corner.
Or – equally damaging – such recurrent headlines could have the opposite effect of undermining public’s confidence in cancer research. By creating the impression of breakthroughs that then don’t quickly materialise into cures, such stories create an impression that research isn’t working.
The fact of the matter is that cancer research is full of promising leads that end up at a dead end. That’s science. But along the way we learn new things, and build our knowledge of cancer.
And, slowly but surely, we make progress. It’s thanks to research that cancer survival rates have doubled over the past 40 years.
We don’t yet know where this research could lead – but we do know it’s far too early to start talking about cures.
ist really thy Naked
and Healthy and long lived Mole Rat.
Thy Mole Rat Cancer Research
ist Basic Research
potential to be applied to thy Humans
but thy Human
Cancer applications ist still far off
and thy far off
probably years or decades away
I might sayeth.
I do sayeth
that Basic Research
shouldn't be ignoreth
as we can get
things that are unexpecteth
from thy Basic Research.
Thy Institutions that supporteth
from thy results that are unexpecteth
thy results from thy much Naked Mole Rat.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 133328.htm
The animal looks like a newborn hamster – still naked and blind. But it is not a hamster; it is a naked mole-rat and already ten years old. These strange creatures live in the semi-deserts of Africa and have a life-span of up to 25 years.
This way of life is very unusual for mammals: Their subterranean colonies are organised like an insect community around a single breeding queen. The rest of the animals are workers and soldiers. Since September 2008 there is such a colony with 19 animals at the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).
The naked mole-rats did not have to dig their own burrow at the IZW. When they arrived in September 2008 a comfortable tunnel labyrinth with several Plexiglas chambers was waiting for them. At the IZW, unlike in the natural habitat, soldier mole-rats are not required as sentinels at the burrow entrance to guard against enemies. Nevertheless, the workers have a lot to do: They crawl busily over and under each other, moving backwards as fast as they move forward.
They transport huge quantities of straw, paper towels and food, scurrying back and forth between the chambers to constantly refurbish the burrow. Each chamber has its own established function such as storage cupboard, sleeping chamber or toilet. The occupancy of the different chambers changes from time to time.
“The queen has the most attractive job,” says Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt. She is somewhat larger and lighter in colour than her subjects and is therefore easy to recognise. The queen suppresses potential rivals by secreting a messenger substance in her urine that suppresses fertility in other females. When the queen dies a palace revolution ensues, as only one female can ascend to the throne. Fierce fighting may occur – sometimes to the death – to determine who will succeed. The winner now takes on the characteristics of the queen. If the colony does not perish during this crisis, it takes about half a year until the new queen is able to reproduce.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 181145.htm
The naked mole can now add an honor to its impressive list of distinctions. The long-living, subterranean rodent has been named Vertebrate of the Year by Science magazine, thanks to the work of University of Rochester biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov.
Science, one of the world's leading journals on scientific research and news, notes that naked mole rats "will never win a beauty contest," but "may hold a lesson or two for humans" when it comes to warding off cancer.
While they may not appreciate the crack about beauty contests, naked mole rats have carved out a reputation for healthy living. They can last as long as 30 years and stay healthy right up to the end -- and that includes never getting cancer. In fact, when naked mole rat cells are induced to form a tumor, the rodents stop the threat almost immediately.
In announcing the Vertebrate of the Year honor, Science cited two research papers published this year, both written by Gorbunova and Seluanov. According to the magazine, one paper explained how a ribosome in naked mole rats "excels at producing error-free proteins," while the other focused on "a supersized version of a complex sugar that…builds up in the spaces between cells and may keep the cells from clumping together and forming tumors."
"The Vertebrate of the Year announcement is ultimately recognition that our work using unconventional animal models is on the same level as other top scientific developments in cancer research," said Gorbunova. "And it shows that the research dollars invested by the National Institutes of Health is money well-spent."
Gorbunova and Seluanov hope their work will one day lead to clinical treatments for preventing or controlling cancer in humans, but they caution that any medical solution is a long way off.
http://www.nature.com/nrclinonc/journal ... 3.118.html
Basic research: Understanding why the naked mole rat is cancer resistant
The naked mole rat's lifespan of 30 years is remarkable, as is its natural resistance to cancer. Researchers have now identified a mechanism responsible for the latter: high levels of high-molecular-mass hyaluronan secreted from fibroblasts, which accumulates because of decreased activity of hyaluronan-degrading enzymes.
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013 ... r-research
The most striking of these to begin with was just how long naked mole rats lived. When researchers studied the rodents over a period of years in the lab, they began to notice how few of them ever died. Faulkes has some individuals from the original colony at London Zoo established from nearly 30 years ago. In American labs, there are naked mole rats still going strong – both forwards and backwards – at 32. Closer study revealed that not only did naked mole rats live a long time, they also resisted almost all typical signs of ageing. The queen and her chosen males could continue breeding without any apparently loss of fecundity. There was no menopause. Blood vessels remained in good condition throughout the naked mole rats' life, with negligible loss of elasticity.
One emphasis in Faulkes's work is into muscle conditioning – naked mole rats seem able to maintain near-perfect muscle structure into old age and are able to repair mitochondrial damage in cells, the kind of damage that is the causal factor in any number of human ailments, from senility to heart failure.
Some of these traits appeared to be linked to the particular series of adaptations that the animals had made to their extremely harsh underground environment – the ability to breathe in low oxygen/high CO2 atmospheres that would kill a human, as well as the evolved ability to suppress pain in their skin (acid burns do not make naked mole rats flinch) and, most extraordinarily perhaps, their cancer-free existence (again, apparently unique among mammals).
Last month, new research published in Nature by a group at Rochester University at New York gave an insight into how this tumour-resistant mechanism might work, research that promises, perhaps, to have a profound effect in a human context. Vera Gorbunova, who co-led that research, has been working on the question since 2005. She describes the work by phone as a different, other-end-of-the-telescope kind of approach to applied biology. "Generally, biologists have worked with mice or drosophila fruit flies to test theories because they are comparatively short-lived and have a quick reproductive cycle, which allows you to study effects on many generations," she says. "With this, we went at it in a different way. If you are studying longevity, for example, why not study animals that have evolved such genetic traits to enable them to live a long life and see how they might have done it?"
With her team, she identified the fact that cells of naked mole rats display a very high degree of proximity inhibition – they don't like to grow close together. This inhibition was proved to be the result of a complex sugar called hyaluronan (HMW-HA), which is present in all mammals, filling the gaps between cells, but which naked mole rats produce in abundance. The molecular structure of their HMW-HA is many times larger, and they are slower at recycling it, meaning that the hyaluronan "goo" builds up in a unique way, giving the naked mole rat the ability, among other things, as Faulkes says, of "almost turning a full somersault within its own skin".
The team at Rochester discovered that the presence of the "goo" enabled a gene identified in an earlier study to activate, causing cancer cells effectively to self-destruct and tumours never to form. The goo is a natural by-product of any attempt to grow naked mole rat cells in a Petri dish. Gorbunova suggests that the next step will be "to introduce this into mice, to see if it has the same effect, and the mice achieve greater age, as well as no cancer". After that, human trials may be possible, though there are no plans in place yet; the Nature article produced a great deal of interest but no extra funding.
Faulkes says, "we are slowly learning more and more" about the compelling and unique creatures that are rattling endlessly round the tubes around us as we talk. More than a few stubborn mysteries remain, however, including the obvious one: "We have no real idea at all," Faulkes admits, "about why they might be naked."