Naked mole rats live for nearly 30 years longer than any other rodent, and scientists reckon that these animals may hold the secret to longevity.
The oxidising compounds produced in the bodies gradually wear down DNA and proteins, hence causing ageing by destroying the cells.
But, surprisingly, naked mole rats have almost equivalent levels of oxidants to mice that live to be just three and a half years.
For the study, Rochelle Buffenstein of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and colleagues extracted liver tissue from both species, and treated it with chemicals that "unravel" proteins to reveal damage.
It was discovered that naked mole rats had twice as many undamaged proteins as in mice.
In fact, the rats'' protein recycling machinery was found to be exceptionally active, reports New Scientist magazine.
According to the researchers, naked mole rats manufacture extra quantities of molecules that are responsible for labelling damaged proteins that need to be recycled quickly to minimise their effect on cells.
And now they are hoping to identify these molecules, and test whether they could be used to treat age-related disease in humans.