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Naked mole rats could be the key to curing cancer, study shows

The naked mole rat isn't much to look at, but could hold the key to curing cancer.

This unlikely beast lives for 30 years or more and does not develop cancer due to sugars that keep cells from clumping.

While 95 percent of mice die of cancer, this African rodent is immune from the disease and lives 10 times longer than its peers.

The sugar that may be the cause for its longevity is called hyaluronan and occurs between cells in tissue.

To study the chemical, researchers cultivated a tumor in the mole rat. The only way for the cancer to take hold was to alter the hyaluronan.

More from GlobalPost: Naked mole rat may hold secret to longer life, better health, scientists say (VIDEO)

"A lot of cancer research focuses on animals that are prone to cancer," study author Vera Gorbunova, a biology professor at the University of Rochester, said in a statement.

"We think it's possible to learn strategies for preventing tumors by studying animals that are cancer-proof."

It is not the first time the naked mole rat has been in the news. Scientists have long wondered what makes them live so long and stay so young.

The next study may have to investigate how they could possibly be so ugly.

The current study was published recently in Nature.