U of R boffins discover wrinkle therapy chem may cure cancer in naked mole rats

The husband and wife team of Seluanov and Gorbunova at the University of Rochester may be one step closer to discovering a practical cancer treatment. They have isolated a specific chemical in the naked mole rat which seems to gird the rodent Lothario’s cells against tumors. And as it turns out, curing wrinkles may have been better for your health than previously thought:

Seluanov and Gorbunova then showed that when HMW-HA was removed, the cells became susceptible to tumors, confirming that the chemical did play a role in making naked mole rats cancer-proof. The Rochester team also identified the gene, named HAS2, responsible for making HMW-HA in the naked mole rat. Surprisingly, the naked mole rat gene was different from HAS2 in all other animals. In addition naked mole rats were very slow at recycling HMW-HA, which contributed to the accumulation of the chemical in the animals’ tissues.

The next step will be to test the effectiveness of HMW-HA in mice. If that test goes well, Seluanov and Gorbunova hope to try the chemical on human cells. “There’s indirect evidence that HMW-HA would work in people,” said Seluanov. “It’s used in anti-wrinkle injections and to relieve pain from arthritis in knee joints, without any adverse effects. Our hope is that it can also induce an anti-cancer response.”

It was this same husband and wife team that, in November of last year, announced that they’d discovered a protein which may prevent run-away cell growth in NMR. Unchecked cell growth is the hallmark of cancer.

HMW-HA is known to help vascular health by maintaining the integrity of Endothelial cells, which line the inside of veins and arteries. It is this property that makes it desirable in wrinkle therapy. Seluanov and Gorbunova discovered the same chemical in a “goop” that seemed to clog up testing equipment while the scientists tested other properties of the NMR.