• New Israeli Scientist-led research study reveals whether or not a rat holds the secret to long life


Accra, Ghana, 12th April, 2013: An Israeli Research Scientist with the Tel Aviv University has unlocked secrets that could help humans live longer, more productive lives with the publication of her latest findings regarding the unusually long life span found in the genes of the naked mole rat, a rodent native to East Africa.


Israeli Evolutionary Biologist and Rodent Expert, Dorothee Huchon reveals in her latest findings that the naked mole rat?s unusual life expectancy is due to very high levels of a neuro-protective protein called Neuregulin 1 (NRG-1) in its brain, which she explains ?is also found in the human brain?. She continued that ?knowing more about the special proteins made by this rodent?s brain could help scientists prepare drugs that will help humans live longer? in the future. Compared to humans at an advanced age, this little hairless rodent — also known as a sand puppy or desert mole rat — shows little evidence of aging and stays active through all stages of life. It also enjoys good bone health, reproductive success and a healthy mind.


The research conducted is a collaborative research study between Huchon and colleagues at the Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and the City College of New York. It set out to determine if the NRG-1 protein is responsible for the rodent?s successful and long life and revealed that the DNA of this particular species shows a striking similarity ? about 85 percent — to the DNA of humans. The researchers believe that this is a first but important stage toward learning how aging and NRG-1 are related. Since mole rats have also been useful in biomedical research due to their resistance to cancer, there may be deeper consequences for human health if more is known about the functioning of NRG-1.


The recently published news study (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00772.x/abstract) also reveals that the NRG-1 gene can act as a tumor suppressor, protect the brain against stroke, and a variant of the gene can lead to higher levels of creativity.


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