Dr Adrian Baez-Ortega: The Cancers Which Survived - Transmissible Cancers in Natural Populations
Cancer is normally confined to the body wherein it arises, thus being an ultimately self-destructive disease. Transmissible cancers are a striking exception to this rule.These are long-lived lineages of cancer cells which possess the ability to spread throughout animal populations as infectious pathogens. To date, only eight transmissible cancer lineages have been described, affecting dogs, Tasmanian devils, and several species of bivalve shellfish. Nevertheless, these diseases might be more common in nature than currently thought. Moreover, although an epidemic spread of cancer in humans is extremely unlikely, there have been exceptional cases of cancer cell transmission in our own species.
Dr Adrian Baez-Ortega is a Nevile Research Fellow in Biological Science, based at the Wellcome Sanger Institute he works to investigate the processes of mutation and selection which mould the somatic evolution of cells in healthy and diseased tissues.
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