GETTING OLD AND GETTING CANCER.
TWO THINGS A LOT OF PEOPLE WORRY ABOUT...
GETTING OLD AND GETTING CANCER ARE ALSO TWO THINGS SCIENTISTS ARE TRYING TO FIGHT.
IN TONIGHT'S HEALTHCAST THE UNIQUE CRITTERS YOU'RE ABOUT TO SEE COULD BE THE KEY TO PREVENTING BOTH.
WORRIED ABOUT GETTING OLD?
("There are a lot of diseases out there and many other issues they have to worry about.")
HOW ABOUT CANCER?
WHAT IF YOU WERE AGILE ENOUGH TO DO THESE THINGS....
WELL INTO YOUR NINETIES AND YOUR BODY WAS CANCER RESISTANT?
THE SECRETS TO THOSE POSSIBILITIES COULD BE INSIDE THESE NAKED MOLE RATS.
"We have about 2,500 animals."
DOCTOR ROCHELLE BUFFENSTEIN IS STUDYING THE CRITTERS. BASED ON THEIR SIZE, THEY SHOULD ONLY LIVE ABOUT SIX YEARS...BUT THEY LIVE TO 35 AND ARE HIGHLY ACTIVE UNTIL THEY'RE 25.
"Which would be equivalent to a human at the age of about 90 maintaining good health and good function."
BASED ON OUR SIZE, BUFFENSTEIN SAYS WE SHOULD ONLY LIVE TO 40.
"Humans and naked mole rats live between four and five times as long as they should."
UNLIKE THE RODENTS WE GET CANCER.
"We've never seen a single tumor in our colony."
WHILE MOST MICE DIE FROM TUMORS, RESEARCHERS PAINTED THE MOLE RATS' SKIN WITH CARCINOGENS AND NO TUMORS DEVELOPED. BUFFENSTEIN SAYS WE SHARE 178 UNIQUE GENE FAMILIES WITH MOLE RATS. THE KEY IS TO FIND THE PATHWAYS THAT MAKE THE RATS AGE BETTER AND STAY CANCER-FREE. THEN FIND A WAY TO MODIFY HUMAN GENES TO DO THE SAME.
THE DOCTOR SAYS HER GOAL ISN'T TO HELP HUMANS LIVE HUNDREDS OF YEARS...
"But we would like to live a healthy life for at least maybe 95 years rather than 60 years."
SOMETHING SHE HOPES WILL ONE DAY BE THE NAKED TRUTH.
DOCTOR BUFFENSTEIN BELIEVES SHE'S GETTING CLOSE TO FINDING THE PATHWAYS THAT COULD HELP HER FIGURE OUT WHY THE MOLE RATS AGE SO WELL AND DON'T DEVELOP CANCER. BUT, TRANSLATING THE FINDINGS TO HELP HUMANS COULD TAKE A LOT LONGER.