March 17, 2009, Updated September 24, 2012

Mole rats offer key to human cancer research, Israeli and US scientists discoverCellular mechanisms developed by subterranean mole rats to survive the low levels of oxygen in their underground habitat are similar to the mechanisms used by tumors to survive and progress in humans, a new study by Israeli and US researchers has shown. The landmark research by scientists at the Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa and the Functional Genomics Center at the University of Illinois, was supported by a grant from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), and published recently in the online journal, FASEB.
According to the scientists, the mole rat can represent the human tumor in research, and the gene targeted in mole rats could well be used to develop effective anti-cancer drugs. The researchers believe that understanding the survival mechanism in the blind subterranean mole rate can help advance cancer research.
“When we understand how the subterranean mole rat developed these mechanisms for survival, we may be able to understand why they are so destructive in humans,” said the University of Haifa’s Prof. Aaron Avivi, who led the study with Dr. Mark Band from the University of Illinois.

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