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Transmissible cancers in marine species

Transmissible neoplasia is rare, but it has been found to occur in the Tasmanian devil (a marsupial), dogs, and recently in soft-shell clams. Here Stephen Goff and colleagues identify three marine bivalve species — cockles, mussels and shell clams — that also exhibit disseminated neoplasia. In shell clams, the cancer lineages are transmitted from a closely related species. The findings suggest that transmissible neoplasia is more common than was previously thought, and that cross-species transmission of cancer can occur, albeit rarely.

Nature Volume 534 Issue 7609

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