How This Naked Mole Rat Could Help You Live Longer

Another protein (NRG-1), essential for normal brain functioning, was found to remain at a high level throughout the life of the naked mole rat. That protein protects the integrity of neurons, or brain cells, and it may explain how the rat can remain so healthy throughout its long life, according to researchers at Tel Aviv University who are also part of Buffenstein's team.

Other scientists are intrigued with the rat's lifestyle, because it lives in a highly structured colony that largely resembles ant colonies. Much like the ant's queen, one female reigns over the colony, and she alone has babies -- as many as 12 at a time every couple of months. There are many males that serve as fathers, and they -- along with all their offspring -- serve the queen.

According to Texas A & M researchers, the naked mole rat is the most advanced species to live in such an organized colony. Most of the young give up the chance to breed and produce their own broods and spend their lives building the tunnels and the caverns, and the giant room where the queen lives with her servants.

If that lifestyle is painful, the rats wouldn't know it. Sometime during the evolution of the species, the naked mole rat eliminated a chemical from its system that sends signals to the brain that something really hurts -- not even when exposed to the bite of capsaicin, the substance that makes chili peppers blistering hot.

The scientists "restored" the chemical to one rear foot of each tested rat and exposed them to capsaicin. They would pull that foot up and lick it, showing they felt pain, but only in that foot. There's hope that this research could lead to better treatment for humans who suffer with severe pain.

Those are only a few of the areas that scientists are probing with the help of a blind, hairless, wrinkled animal that just may lead us to a better and much longer life.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, their daughter North West and Delphine Arnault attend the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015, Sept. 28, 2014 in Paris.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images