A contagious form of cancer that can spread between dogs during mating has highlighted the extent to which dogs accompanied human travellers throughout our seafaring history. But the tumours also provide surprising insights into how cancers evolve by ‘stealing’ DNA from their host.
Transmissible cancers – cancers which can spread between individuals by the transfer of living cancer cells – are believed to arise extremely rarely in nature. One of the few known transmissible cancers causes facial tumours in Tasmanian devils, and is threatening this species with extinction. Today, scientists report the discovery of a second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils.
The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, T is for Tasmanian Devil and the researchers studying the transmissable cancer that threatens these marsupials with extinction.
While countries with dog control policies have curbed an infectious and gruesome canine cancer, the disease is continuing to lurk in the majority of dog populations around the world, particularly in areas with many free-roaming dogs. This is according to research published in the open access journal BMC Veterinary Research.
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the world’s oldest continuously surviving cancer, a transmissible genital cancer that affects dogs.