A Fountain of Youth? These Researchers See It – Absent of Cancer

Aug. 24, 2023

A longevity gene can be effectively transferred from one mammal to another to extend the lifespan and potentially fend off cancer, according to a new study by a University of Rochester and Wilmot Cancer Institute scientist. The next goal? To transfer the benefit to humans.

The latest groundbreaking work is part of a long series of studies involving the naked mole rat — a rodent that can live up to 41 years and will not likely contract age-related illnesses like cancer or heart disease.

A research team and laboratory led by Vera Gorbunova, Ph.D., the Doris Johns Cherry professor of Biology and Medicine, and Andrei Seluanov, Ph.D., professor of Biology, has spent decades understanding why naked mole rats are protected from cancer and other aging ailments. They previously found that the rodents have about 10 times the amount of high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) in their bodies compared to humans and mice. HMW-HA contributes to longevity and cancer resistance.

In the recent study, they wanted to find out if the gene responsible for making HMW-HA could be successfully transferred from the rats to mice; they also discovered that the positive effects of HMW-HA could be reproduced in other animals.

Read the full study in the journal Nature, here.

Read the University of Rochester’s full press release here.    

Gorbunova is a member of Wilmot’s Genetics, Epigenetics and Metabolism (GEM) research program, and leads the Rochester Aging Research Center at the UR Medical Center.