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The Good Kind of Rat

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Researchers have recently mapped the genome of the naked mole rat, an African rodent with an innate resistance to cancer, reports Bloomberg's Elizabeth Lopatto. The international team of researchers, which recently published its work in Nature, says that an analysis of the rodent's genome reveals it split from its mice and rat cousins about 73 million years ago, and can live about 10 times longer than they do. "The unusual traits of the creature, which lives in large ant-like colonies with a single breeding female or queen, together with its genomic information, offer new opportunities for understanding aging and other biological processes," particularly how it resists cancer, Lopatto says. And since 93 percent of the naked mole rat's genes are similar to mouse genes, researchers could implant naked mole rat genes into mice to determine how the creatures resist cancer, and whether those insights could benefit humans, she adds.

Cancer Minute's sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on the naked mole rat genome here.

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