Scientists at Cambridge University in the UK discovered the mechanism that allows naked mole Heterocephalus glaber to fight cancer. Although these rodent cells can become malignant in the same ways that other mammals, a complex system of cells, the microenvironment and the immune system prevents the growth of tumors. This was reported in an article published in the journal Nature.

Previously it was thought that resistance to cancer naked mole rats due to the production of cells of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid. In previous experiments it was shown that treatment of cells two oncogenes large T-antigen SV40 and HRAS — sufficient for conversion of fibroblasts of mice and rats in malignant cells, although the cells of naked mole rats appeared to be protected from the threat of transformation. T-antigen SV40 is a component of the polyomavirus SV40 that can cause cancer in some animals but not in humans, and HRAS is an enzyme that promote uncontrolled cell division.

In the new work the researchers used 106 cell lines isolated from five different tissues from 11 naked mole rats, and placed them in SV40 and HRAS using lentiviruses — viruses, which is used as a convenient vector for delivering foreign genetic material. It turned out that by themselves, the cells of naked mole rats vulnerable to oncogenic transformation, indicating the existence of a unique extracellular mechanism that protects Heterocephalus glaber of cancer. However, while he remains unknown and further studies are needed.