A recent study showed that transferable tumors were increasing among several different species of shellfish that included cockles, clams and mussels.
The direct contagion of cancer among marine species may be an everyday occurrence as we now know. A study got published in the journal Nature recently that showed this trend. It dealt with cases of bivalves such as mussels, cockles and clams.
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Apparently, cancer cells travel through the medium of water between these species. The particular cancer is a type of neoplasia and is commonly found in bivalves. The transfer of cancer cells is in normal circumstances a very rare occurrence. Yet in the deep blue ocean it seems to be the norm.
Until now this sort of transferable cancer has only been seen in two mammals. In 2015, a third species was added and it was the soft shell clam. The cells somehow transfer the cancer from one species to another.
At first it was thought to be due to a virus. However, now we know better. It is the cancer itself that seems to be contagious. Mussels, cockles and golden carpet shell clams are among the marine life forms that come under this cancer-catching rubric.
The cancer is probably due to clones being generated by the cancer cells. These clones were radically different from their mother cells. In one of the species, the cancer cells had arrived from a relative species.
Yet the species as distinct. Such cross-species disease transmission was a strange oddity of nature. In the future, the mutations of these cancer cells in marine life forms will be studied in depth.
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The direct transmission of cancer is a fascinating find. It is a field that deserves more research work and it ought to be explored for what we can learn from it in terms of this deadly disease. Maybe human beings may even come to know more about the role of cancer in their own species via a thorough analysis of this transferable cancer found in marine species.