Prof. Aaron Avivi and Dr. Imad Shams: Cancer Program: Drug Development Based on Blind Mole Rat Resistance to Cancer


Underground Against CANCER:

The Subterranean Blind Mole-Rat, Spalax, Hides the Key for Treatment and Prevention

 Principal researcher name: 

 Prof. Aaron Avivi, Dr. Imad Shams, Dr. Irena Manov

Invention area: Bio-Medical Study


Prof. Aaron Avivi, Dr. Imad Shams and Dr. Irena Manov are carrying, genuine study using a unique organism – The Israeli Subterranean Blind Mole-rat (Spalax).
As an adaptation to its natural underground environment it is tolerant to limited oxygen supply (hypoxia) and abrupt and sharp changes in oxygen availability (oxidative stress). Both conditions directly related and influencing heart and lung diseases, brain strokes and above all cancer, together the most lethal health risks in the western world. Hence Spalax can serve as an experimental mammal for a progress in treating these ailments in humans.

Spalax is a long-lived underground rodent that can live over 20 years (~5 times longer than its ‘relative’, the above-ground hypoxia-sensitive rat).
It keeps good health along his life-span and does not show any signs of aging.
During 50 years of Spalax studies spontaneous tumors were never observed, in thousands of animals, even at age >20 years.
Furthermore, we did not succeed to induce cancer in it through treatments with chemical carcinogens, which do initiate the expected tumors in few months in 100% of above ground, treated rodents.
What's more, they have found widespread, prevalent differentially expressed Spalax genes that overlap with pathways in cancer eliciting
much wider and stronger expression patterns than in rat.
Noteworthy and most important, the results indicate that normal Spalax cells, and only Spalax cells, secrete substance/s that kill cancer cells from different mammals including human and from a wide range of tissues including very aggressive high-metastatic ones.
This ability is unique to Spalax, cannot be observed with normal cells from human, mice and rat, and is specific to the interaction with cancer cells; i.e. normal Spalax cells do not kill normal cells.

In spite of decades of cancer studies humans continue to suffer and their number only keeps rising. The high cancer resistance in Spalax and its anti-cancer abilities are a unique opportunity to search for novel, nature-based, solutions to fight the disease.


Usage: Spalax fibroblasts secret molecule/s that can kill cancer cells, first and foremost human cancer cells.

Identification and isolation of these secreted substances and resolving their mechanisms of action will open new horizons in cancer treatment and prevention, which can lead to the development of new pharmaceutical drugs against a wide range of human cancer.


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