Pain insensitivity in African Mole-Rats: another benefit and lesson to learn from Rodent

Rodents form the biggest proportion in terms of numbers and diversity among all mammalian species. This is not by chance but is due to their smartness and intelligence. In Tanzania the perception on rodents is rapidly evolving, they are now perceived as man’s best tool for solving disease problems – you have heard of the super HeroRats that go to school at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). Thanks to their well developed sense of smell.

Mole Rats

Mole-rat meetups probably make for some pretty stoic soirées. The highveld mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae) can't feel chemical pain from AITC, which is found in spicy roots like wasabi and horseradish, as well as in Natal droptail ants (Myrmicaria natalensis), which sometimes share these rodents' burrows. Image Credit: Dewald Kleynhans, University of Pretoria

Recently, Researchers from Sokoine University of Agriculture’s PEST Management Centre (SPMC), University of Dar es Salaam, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Germany and University of Pretoria, South Africa explored other areas that can be learned from the African rodents, involving the mole rats from various localities in Tanzania and southern Africa.

The study focused on mechanisms that render rodents insensitive to pains. The findings published in the prestigious Science Journal shows that rodents have evolved a genetic mechanism to switch off the channels that enables feeling pains. This has potential benefits to humans as can be used to develop ways of getting rid of susceptibility to various pains affecting human and animals.

Read also the following Articles for more detailed information

SUA Pest Management Centre: SPMC’s staff publishes in ‘Science’

SCIENCE Journal: Rapid molecular evolution of pain insensitivity in multiple African rodents

The New York Times : These Mole Rats Felt No Pain, Even From Wasabi’s Burn

Science Daily: Pain free, thanks to evolution

NOVA : The naked mole-rat is impervious to certain kinds of pain. It’s not alone

University of Pretoria: UP academics’ work on African mole-rat research could pave way for new painkillers for humans


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