The cure for cancer may be closer than we know.
At least that is what University of Rochester Professor Vera Gorbunova and Assistant Professor Andrei Seluanov think.
The blind mole rat was known to be one of two mammals that never develop cancer. It was only until recently that University of Rochester scientists found out how the blind mole rat had developed such an immunity.
For their test, the two professors isolated blind mole rat cells and forced them to grow at an accelerated rate. During this process, the scientists witnessed the rapidly growing cells rearrange themselves and secrete a “suicide protein” that halted the abnormal growth. They also found that the adjacent cells that were at at risk for developing cancer were also killed off, stopping any potential for cancer.
Gorbunova said that the next step in their research is to find out why the protein is released in the first place. Once this final secret is discovered, it could be the final piece of the puzzle that will allow scientists to prompt human cells to release a similar “suicide protein” that would allow people to be able to fight off some cancers.
Despite the excitement among the University of Rochester scientists, Jerry Shay, who studies cellular aging at University Texas, does not hold the same optimistic opinion. Shay says that the protein may not actually be what prevents cancer in blind mole rats. He suggests that researchers have simply not found a way to keep the test cells alive for a long enough time.
Even if scientists have not figured out how blind mole rats have managed to prevent cancer to grow, it still does not take away from the fact that they are mammals and that they are immune to it. This means that humans still have a future of becoming resistant to cancer for good as well.