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Wildlife cancer

Outbreak of leukaemia in clams

Metzger et al. have found that a leukaemia-like type of cancer in soft-shell clams that is causing substantial population loss worldwide is transmissible. The authors found that the genotypes of the clam leukaemic cells were different from their hosts and nearly identical to the genotypes of other neoplastic cells in clams from dispersed locations. This suggests that the cancer is spreading as a clonal transmissible cell derived from a single original clam.


  1. Metzger, M. J. et al. Horizontal transmission of clonal cancer cells causes leukemia in soft-shell clams. Cell 161, 255–263 (2015)

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Villanueva, M. Outbreak of leukaemia in clams. Nat Rev Cancer 15, 259 (2015).

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