Here at the Alliance for Aging Research we are huge fans of the African naked mole rat. Now, why would anyone love a 4-inch squinty-eyed hairless wrinkled rodent with buck teeth?

Let's put it this way: How would you like to live five times the normal human lifespan with rock-solid immunity to cancer and arteries smooth and supple as a teenager; and when you reach the end of an incredibly long life, have death come without a single day of sickness or disability? Those are a few of the tricks that come naturally to a critter that deserves serious scientific scrutiny so we can learn its secrets.

An article published today in the British medical journal Nature reports that an international team of scientists have succeeded in decoding the entire genome of our favorite rodent. Prominent scientists working with the Alliance to identify research that would advance our understanding of the common denominator of disease–aging itself, have specifically called-out cross-species research studies using the naked mole rat as a powerful model that could lead the way to healthier aging for humans.

This means that this vital research is in full swing; and that an animal that is far from cute and cuddly might be man's best friend after all.