The curious tale of the cancer 'parasite' that sailed the seas

phys.org | 5/17/2016 | Staff
kringkring (Posted by) Level 4
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A contagious canine cancer that conquered the world by spreading between dogs during mating likely arose around 6,000 years ago in Asia and spread around the globe through maritime activities, scientists say.

A detailed genetic study, published today in Science, reveals some surprising—and even mysterious—findings about how this cancer, that has survived for thousands of years, has mutated and evolved over time.

Venereal - Tumour - Cancer - Dogs - Transfer

'Canine transmissible venereal tumour' is a cancer that spreads between dogs through the transfer of living cancer cells, primarily during mating. The disease usually manifests as genital tumours in both male and female domestic dogs. It first arose in an individual dog, but survived beyond the death of the original dog by spreading to new dogs. The cancer is now found in dog populations worldwide, and is the oldest and most prolific cancer lineage known in nature.

One of the most remarkable aspects of these tumours is that their cells are those of the original dog in which the cancer arose, and not the carrier dog. The only differences between cells in the modern dogs' tumours and cells in the original tumour are those that have arisen over time either through spontaneous changes in the cells' DNA or through changes caused by carcinogens.

Team - Researchers - Scientists - Cancer - Group

An international team of researchers, led by scientists at the Transmissible Cancer Group at the University of Cambridge, has compared differences in tumours taken from 546 dogs worldwide to try to understand how the disease arose and how it managed to spread around the world.

"This tumour has spread to almost every continent, evolving as it spreads," says Adrian Baez-Ortega, a Ph.D. student in the Transmissible Cancer Group, part of Cambridge's Department of Veterinary Medicine. "Changes to its DNA tell a story of where it has been and when, almost like a historical travel journal."

Data

Using the data, they created a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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