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New insights into how naked mole rats resist cancer
The naked mole rat is renowned for its longevity and ability to resist cancer.

Rodents exhibit anti-cancer mechanism called cellular senescence

New research has revealed insights into the cellular processes that contribute to the naked mole rat’s resistance to cancer.

Native to East Africa, the naked mole rat is renowned for its longevity and ability to resist cancer. Over the many years that the species has been studied, very few have been observed developing tumours.

In a new study, an international team of researchers set out to see if the naked mole rat exhibits an anti-cancer mechanism called cellular senescence and, if so, how it operates in short-lived animals like mice.

Cellular senescence is a phenomenon by which damaged cells are prevented from dividing and developing into cancer. By preventing this action, however, the ageing process speeds up.

Earlier research found that when cells that had undergone senescence were removed from mice, the mice were stronger in old age when compared to mice that had aged naturally.

To prevent cancer, abnormal cells need to be prevented from dividing. But to prevent ageing, cells need to keep dividing in order to replenish tissues.

In the study, researchers compared the senescence response of the naked mole rat to that of mice, which live a tenth as long. They found that while naked mole rats do experience cellular senescence, they continue to live long, healthy lives.

The study showed that although naked mole rats displayed cellular senescence similar to mice, their senescent cells exhibited unique features that may contribute to their cancer resistance and longevity.

“Our research suggests that naked mole rats are able to inhibit metabolic processes of the senescent cells, resulting in senescent cells that are less pathogenic,” said Dr Joao Pedro De Magalhaes from the University of Liverpool’s institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, which took part in the study.

“In addition, naked mole rat cells are more resistant to DNA damage. Therefore, one hypothesis is that the way naked mole rats are better able to cope with damage to their genome is essential for longevity and cancer resistance.”

The study, Naked more rats can undergo developmental, oncogene-induced and DNA damage-induced cellular senescence, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Image (C) Jedimentat44 

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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BSAVA announces winner of 2019 Bourgelat Award

One of the world’s leading small animal medicine specialists is set to receive the prestigious Bourgelat Award at BSAVA Congress 2019.

Professor Mike Herrtage will be recognised for his major research into metabolic and endocrine diseases, including diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease.

During his career, Prof Herrtage has co-authored more than 100 scientific papers and written more than 200 other publications such as abstracts, books and chapters. He also continues to be a source of inspiration for thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate veterinary surgeons.