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Thu Nov 7, 2019, 01:15 AM

Infectious cancer spreads across mussels in South America and Europe, shows study

Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Nov 7 2019

An infectious cancer that originated in one species of mussel growing in the Northern Hemisphere has spread to related mussels in South America and Europe, says a new study published today in eLife.

The findings also suggest that humans may unwittingly be contributing to the worldwide spread of infectious cancers that can affect mussels and other bivalves such as clams and cockles.

Most cancers arise when DNA mutations occur in an organism's cells that cause uncontrolled cell growth. While these cancerous cells do not normally spread to others, there are a few exceptions.

"Tasmanian devils, dogs and bivalves have all developed cancers that can spread to others, acting more like a pathogen or parasite," explains lead author Marisa Yonemitsu, Research Technician at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, US.


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