Studies of the comparative biology of aging involve mapping the genetics and cellular biochemistry of exceptionally long-lived species in search of significant differences, when compared with both humans and shorter-lived species. The hope is that findings may inform human medical research, and at best could lead to new directions for the development of therapies to address aspects of aging. Species of interest include whales, for longevity and exceptional cancer resistance given their size, elephants, also for unusual cancer resistance, and naked mole-rats, which live far longer than similarly sized rodent species, and are near immune to cancer.
Today I’ll point out a couple of recent papers from research groups investigating the naked mole-rat. It has for a while now been generally accepted that naked mole-rats are negligibly senescent. This is a blanket and in practice fairly loosely applied term indicating that members of a species show little signs of aging across most of a life span (for some definition of “little” and “most”), with a sudden and short decline at the end. This is very unlike the human life course, which takes the form of an exponential decline that starts comparatively early, in the