The complete genome of the naked mole rat has been sequenced by scientists. This was done in an attempt to try and understand the animal's extraordinarily long life and good health.
Mole rats are able to find out how they are able to maintain the integrity of their proteins and DNA far better than other animals in old age.
"If we understand which genes are different or are expressed differently in naked mole rats - compared to short-lived mice that clearly have poor defenses against aging and cancer - we might find clues as to why the naked mole rat is able to extend both health span and longevity, as well as fight cancer, and this information could be directly relevant and translatable to humans," Rochelle Buffenstein, co-worker of the study, said.
The mouse-sized naked mole rat is the longest-lived rodent known, surviving up to 31 years in captivity. They live underground in large family groups, like termites and bees, with only a single breeding female and are extremely tolerant of life in low oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide.
"Deciphering the animal's genetic blueprint is an important step to unlocking the keys to the naked mole rat's extraordinary longevity, Buffenstein said.
"This study reveals many of the genetic secrets to their extraordinary longevity, cancer resistance and pain tolerance, and their ability to survive in a low-oxygen environment," she added.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.