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Contagious Cancer Found in Dogs

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the heavy-petting dept.

303

Dan East writes "Scientists in England have gathered definitive evidence that a kind of cancer in dogs, known as Sticker's sarcoma, is contagious. It is spread by tumor cells getting passed from dog to dog through sex or from animals biting or licking each other. Robin Weiss and his colleagues did genetic studies on the tumor cells from 40 dogs with Sticker's sarcoma, collected from five continents, which showed that all the tumor cells are clones of each other. The parent cell probably arose in a domesticated dog of Asian origin — perhaps a husky — hundreds of years ago, and perhaps more than 1,000 years ago. A similarly transmissible cancer has recently been discovered spreading through populations of Tasmanian devils."

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15888987)

First Post!

Transmitted through sex? (4, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#15888991)

Great! Now I have to give my dogs a talking-to about using protection before they go to the doggie park!

I wonder if they will start having puppy prophylactics in a candy dish at pet-smart.

tasmanian devil & spreading cancer (5, Interesting)

fredouil (891612) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889020)

unfortunately this kind of cancer is not new, here in Australia, the Tasmanian devil are diying and will soon disapear. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/02/02 27_060227_tasmanian.html [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:tasmanian devil & spreading cancer (-1, Troll)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889201)


I'm sure either GWB's economic policies or global warming are at fault.

Re:Transmitted through sex? (3, Funny)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889071)

Man, am I glad I had my dog's balls chopped off. Nearly all of his humping instinct is now gone... we might have dodged a bullet!

I wouldn't be too sure about that... (1)

amemily (462019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889431)

My neighbor's neutered dog was going at it with my siberian the other day.

Re:Transmitted through sex? (4, Funny)

krawz (662049) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889354)

Hopefully the people at PetSmart will handle the...application...of the aforementioned 'protection', because I know I'm not. Imagine the Want Ad... PetSmart, Inc is now seeking a full-time Canine Fornication Specialist. 1+ year(s) previous CFS experience preferred. Dust off your rubber glove and drop off your application today!

Quarantine NOW! (0, Flamebait)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15888992)

We had a chance with aids, but we blew it.
Quarantine and put this dogs to sleep now!

The Punnic Wars, Part 2 (3, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889003)

"We had a chance with aids, but we blew it."

You can say that again.

Re:The Punnic Wars, Part 2 (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889051)

funny, but This kinda sucks. I think someone has it out for me. Flamebait? I am being serious.
I love my dog, I dont want him to die because some bleeding heart hippies wont do a quarantine.
I think these people mod me down just because I'm a Fascist.

Re:The Punnic Wars, Part 2 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889132)

Not only would I mod you down if I had points, I'd punch you in the face if I could for being an open Fascist. Why not go back to beingf a Bush supporter - I.E. a closet fascist....

Re:The Punnic Wars, Part 2 (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889206)

Maybe you should start a group to campaign against Fascismophobia.

It's just a new form of racism!!!11!

Re:Quarantine NOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889225)

oh like in China, where recently they've mandated extermination of all dogs in a 5km radius of some towns? People's pets being clubbed to death right in front of them. Even if they were vaccinated against rabies (the reason for the 'cull'). Try and 'cull' my dogs, and see what a Ping driver (golf club) to the teeth feels like.

It happens in humans, too. (5, Funny)

Skynet (37427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15888994)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HPV#Cancer [wikipedia.org]

Make sure to use protection, Slashdotters!

oh wait....

Re:It happens in humans, too. (5, Informative)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889026)

There is a big difference. In the HPV case, there is a viral infection THAT MAY cause cancer in people with the virus. This is talking about the tumor cells actually transferring from one animal to another to cause infection. So to recap, HPV is a virus that may cause cancer in women with it and should not be confused with communicable cancer. A communicable cancer would be transferred from person one to person two and cause a cancer infection. (You know, how the flu, common cold, and a host of other diseases work.)

Re:It happens in humans, too. (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889123)

Very true, thanks for pointing that out.

Although at a primitive level, you are getting cancer as a direct result of sexual contact with another person.

Re:It happens in humans, too. (1)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889141)

Carl Zimmer has a great post on this:

http://scienceblogs.com/loom/2006/08/09/an_old_dog _lives_on_inside_new.php [scienceblogs.com]

FTP:
"The scientists propose that several centuries ago, a histiocyte cell in a dog or a wolf turned cancerous. A mutation may have caused the cell to become abnormal--perhaps that LINE-1 element that marks Sticker's sarcoma cells today. But natural selection would have favored other mutations as well that allowed its descendants to become more effective at growing into a tumor. During mating, some of the cancer cells managed to spread to the dog's partner, where they could continue to proliferate."

It's pretty freaky that some ancient dog has essentially turned into a contagious cancer. Not the fate I'd choose...

Re:It happens in humans, too. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889041)

If you had RTFA :
Cancer-causing viruses may spread from person to person, but the cancer does not. But the dog cancer, known as Sticker's sarcoma, is spread by tumor cells getting passed from dog to dog through sex or from animals biting or licking each other.

Re:It happens in humans, too. (3, Informative)

Burlap (615181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889076)

close, but not quite.

Human Papolova Virus (HPV) can be transmitted from person to person, however the cancer cells it creates are from the host. The article states that in this case the very cancer cells themselves are being transmitted and growing in a new host. These tumors have no genitic relation to host, whereas HPV induced cancers do.

Re:It happens in humans, too. (5, Informative)

eli pabst (948845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889135)

I haven't read the journal article in Cell yet, but from my understanding this isn't interesting from the standpoint of a virus being able to transform normal cells into a tumor. There are a large number of examples of that (EBV, KSHV, hepatitis B virus). This is interesting because it's the actual tumor cells themselves that are being transmitted from one host to another. You can do that in the lab by injecting tumor cells from one mouse into another and letting a new tumor form, however I haven't seen examples of this occuring naturally and in those experiments the mice need to either be from the same genetic background or immunosuppressed SCID mice.

Timmy Didn't Kill Old Yeller (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889006)

The parent cell probably arose in a domesticated dog of Asian origin -- perhaps a husky -- hundreds of years ago, and perhaps more than 1,000 years ago.
Tonight, President Bush will go on TV and address the nation saying that recent research has shown that China & North Korea used biological weapons on the United States and its best friends. This will be justification for the preemptive nuclear attacks the United States has planned next week. He's got a real good feeling about this one. It's a slam dunk.

Re:Timmy Didn't Kill Old Yeller (1)

w0d3h0us3 (966674) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889307)

On what planet is this sort of nonsense "Insightful"?

Re:Timmy Didn't Kill Old Yeller (1)

MikeB0Lton (962403) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889356)

>> On what planet is this sort of nonsense "Insightful"?

The same planet this sort of nonsense is "Funny"!

**Go ahead. Take what karma I have left.**

Dogs lick each other? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889017)

What? I've never ever seen this behaviour. I've seen people do this in nightclubs after ten drinks, but never dogs. Next you're going to tell us that they sniff each other's rear-ends! LOL

How are these Cancer Cells? (4, Interesting)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889021)

It is spread by tumor cells getting passed from dog to dog through sex or from animals biting or licking each other. Robin Weiss and his colleagues did genetic studies on the tumor cells from 40 dogs with Sticker's sarcoma, collected from five continents, which showed that all the tumor cells are clones of each other.

So, all tumor cells are clones of each other and not related to the dog. How is this cancer? Isn't it just a regular pathogen then?

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (2, Insightful)

6OOOOO (600000) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889054)

Not a doctor, but...

Presumably the oddity is that it's a cancer that behaves as a pathogen--that is, these are rogue dog cells that can jump from dog to dog and continue reproducing as a tumor. It's closest, really, to a parasite, but it's still weirder than that, since it's genetically the same species as its host.

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889268)

Not a doctor, but...

No no no... you got it all wrong.. The line is:

"Damnit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not..."

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (2, Interesting)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889093)

It's a parasite. The strange thing is their claim that after dog bites these "cancer cells clog up the jaw, and the poor animals die of starvation".

I can see how a parasite like this might get a free ride in the genital tract, but in the case if bites like this, the host dog's immune system should recognize these 'cancer' cells as foreign material and destroy them.

For that matter... (3, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889098)

For that matter, how the hell are these foreign cells growing **whole tumours** in the host without the host's immune system going into complete overdrive?

I mean, it's hard to even transplant a finger in a human without using huge amounts of anti-rejection drugs. How is there a tumor growing inside the dog, with cells that must have a totally different DNA and chromosone pattern? Why is the dog's host system not attacking it?

I mean, part of the whole problem with cancer is that the cells are in fact your own cells, so your body never attacks the infection. But if the cancer is directly contagious than this is not the case at all.

Re:For that matter... (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889217)

I think it has something to do with how close the cells are to the cells of the host. In the case of cancer cells, they contained somewhat damaged DNA, which is the cause of the tumour, yet your body still doesn't attack it, because for some reason or another it doesn't see it as a threat. I think the same thing would apply here. Remember that all breeds of dogs are the same species, even though there's a wide variation of DNA out there to account for all the different breeds. Perhaps dogs have a much larger margin which their body considers safe for presence in their own body due to such a large variation in the genes present in the species.

Re:For that matter... (3, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889258)

From the article linked from elsewhere in the comments [scienceblogs.com]:

The scientists found that the Sticker sarcoma cells make very few of the surface proteins that vertebrates use to distinguish self from non-self. It appears that the tumor cells can avoid an all-out attack from the immune system. Instead, the immune system reins in the cancer cells, which can survive in the dogs even after their tumor disappears.

It's ... evolved.

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (1)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889126)

That's a very interesting point. How do you label this? It's not a virus, or it would infect healthy cells of the host. It doesn't appear to be bacterial. It's not really a cancer, since cancer is a part of the host's own cells. What is it?

It *behaves* most like a bacterial infection, but it causes tumors. Or rather, it pauses in a host and somehow replicates itself in large quantities, which is mistaken for a cancerous tumor. How does it feed?

This is a very interesting biological concept.

simple (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889246)

It's a dog infection. Dogs can get infected by dogs.

If you prefer to be less specific, it's an animal infection. The dogs get infected by animal cells.

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (3, Informative)

rabbitfood (586031) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889260)

They are related to the dog simply because they are dog cells (and most dogs are genetically very similar), they just happen to be cancerous, transmissible and genetically identical dog cells. Tumour cells are usually aberrant (mutant) cells from the host animal that don't differentiate (i.e. turn into the right sort of cells for the tissue they are in) and don't regulate their division (i.e. they multiply without restraint). That's what makes them cancerous. And because most of them don't look anything special to the immune system, they don't get rejected.

Contagious cancers aren't a new idea, but the transmission methods aren't very clear. This research clarifies an important element of the process that will be useful in defining healthcare strategies for both animals and humans. Happily, health organizations are well used to managing such threats, and once sex has joined smoking as an unacceptable activity, we'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Re:How are these Cancer Cells? (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889264)

FTFA:
"I rather thought we might disprove this, but it came out the other way around," said Robin Weiss, of University College London, who led the study appearing in today's issue of the journal Cell. "It is clearly a dog tumor cell behaving absolutely like a parasite." Weiss called the tumor transmission trick "a curiosity of nature."
This isn't the first time that a communicable parasite has evolved from a host's own cells and/or cell contents. Prions [microbe.org], such as the ones thought to cause BSE, are another intesting example, possible even harder to classify -- enough so that they've been given their own classification.

I would think that though the diseases from TFA originated as cancers, they now behave like parasites, and should either be labeled as such or given a new designation all their own.

Not Taz!! (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889023)

A similarly transmissible cancer has recently been discovered spreading through populations of Tasmanian devils.
Symptoms include dizziness, slurred speech, and violence toward woodland creatures... especially rabbits.

Re:Not Taz!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889134)

Picture [wildlifehealth.org.au] of a Tasmanian Devil suffering from this cancer - its not a joke [bbc.co.uk]

Your dog wants a condom (2, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889040)

getting passed from dog to dog through sex ... or licking each other.

And it doesn't seem that human to human cancer transmission is impossible, too. This could be the next big thing once we've cured AIDS.

How common is Sticker's sarcoma, though? We have a dog, and although she's not getting to fuck like a rabbit, dogs often lick each other and sometimes bite.

Re:Your dog wants a condom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889177)

Human to human cancer tansmission is certinally common.. well, in a way, since many cancers, such as cervical cancer, start with a sexually transmitted virus. The cell damage from the virus often leads to cancer. Luckily it is treatable if caught early enough.

Re:Your dog wants a condom (2, Informative)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889339)

How common is Sticker's sarcoma, though? We have a dog, and although she's not getting to fuck like a rabbit, dogs often lick each other and sometimes bite..

See this post [slashdot.org].

Damn...I just lost my dog to cancer. (4, Interesting)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889045)

A 9 year old Border Collie with an aggressive tumor in her front leg. This happened two weeks ago. She spent a lot of time playing with other dogs in the park. I'd hate to think that me wanting my dog to have some fun is what killed her. I'd hate to have to wonder and worry about this with my next dog.

Re:Damn...I just lost my dog to cancer. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889216)

Stop being a gay fuck. If you don't want to feel bad when your dog dies, don't get one. They'll all die eventually.

I bet it's Disney movies that makes this generation such spineless losers who can't deal with the realities of life.

Re:Damn...I just lost my dog to cancer. (4, Insightful)

SlashSquatch (928150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889289)

Condolences.

About the bark park, your dog would not have had it any other way.

Don't worry because:

1. Even though you may point to a risky behavior, this does not imply a cause - effect relationship. Many cancer causing agents will always abound in our environment.

2. I'd choose bark park with a 3/4 life span vs. no fun for a long time and all the other dogs I know agree.

3. A good chunk of the dog population gets the shaft, stuck on a chain, or in a cage and possibly gassed in their prime.

Re:Damn...I just lost my dog to cancer. (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889312)

The key, I've found, is to enjoy the company of what ever animal or person you love while they are still with us. Some things we can't control. Life happens and part of life is death. Take lots of pictures and enjoy the time you've been given. Lamenting what could have been produces only poisoness fruit for the soul and the mind.

Love. In the end, it's all you can do to honor someone close to you.

Re:Damn...I just lost my dog to cancer. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889346)

Probably not the cause. From the article: "Sticker's sarcoma is usually not fatal . . .".

Wait, I saw this movie... (1)

Phoenixhunter (588958) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889053)

I believe it was John Carpenter's masterpiece, The Thing. Dog eats alien, dog transforms into bloated mass of cells, Thing eats humans.

Re:Wait, I saw this movie... (1)

fullphaser (939696) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889097)

no I think you are thinking of Aliens 3, dog finds alien, alien eats/fuses with/uses dog, alien/dog hybrid goes on killing spree

Cancer clusters... (2, Interesting)

Varka (767489) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889064)

Perhaps this will turn out to be a partial explanation for the "cancer clusters" you read about every now and then. Varka

In Tasmanian Devils? (0, Redundant)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889070)

Poor things, hopefully it doesn't halt their ability to spin around really really fast.

It's not even really LIKE a normal cancer... (5, Informative)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889084)

... in the sense that these are not the dogs' own cells. This is much more like the dog being a petri dish for a parasitic cell that's being physically passed along, almost like bacteria. The cells just set up shop in the new dog's tissues.

Slightly annoying, in TFA, is the notion that "DNA will try anything to reproduce itself." That might want to read more like "just about everything happens to DNA as it's cloned, and sometimes the mutations work better, and sometimes they fail." There's nothing worse than anthropomorphizing your description of cellular mechanics.

Re:It's not even really LIKE a normal cancer... (2, Informative)

axolotl_farmer (465996) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889351)

The cancer cells are mutated dog cells, only that they originated in another dog maybe 1000 years ago. The new discovery is that the cancer cells can infect other dogs. Usually, cells from another individual (even cancerous cells), are recognized as foreign and destroyed by the immune system.

Re:It's not even really LIKE a normal cancer... (2, Funny)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889403)

There's nothing worse than anthropomorphizing your description of cellular mechanics.

I'll take hyperbole for $1,000, Alex.

How does it evade the immune system? (3, Interesting)

neatfoote (951656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889091)

My understanding was that normal cancers survive in the body because they're part of its own tissue, and are recognized by the immune system as normal body cells. If, as the article says, this sarcoma really is transmitted via the cancer cells themselves (as opposed to an infectious cancer-causing agent like a virus), then shouldn't the infected dog's immune system recognize the cells as coming from another dog and attack them?

Re:How does it evade the immune system? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889229)

Nice comment. You hit the nail of why this has made immunologists (and the general medical research community) very excited. It's a naturally occuring neoplastic growth that is 'non-self' but not recognised as such by the host immune system. Thus it either is able to mimic the host tissue and/or completely evade the immune system. Study of this and the tassie devil tumours may provide novel insights into ways to enable transplanted organs or cells to evade the host immune system. From diabetes to heart transplants it's another string to the bow of medical science.

Re:How does it evade the immune system? (2, Insightful)

Lazarian (906722) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889316)

If this is something unique among cancers, then maybe it's possible to find the mechanism that these foriegn cells are able to integrate themselves in another genetically different organism. Once that could be discovered, maybe this would lead to other approaches in combatting more typical forms of the disease. (I'm not in any medical field, but I've never heard of cancer cells acting like a parasite like these seem to do.)

After just recently losing someone close to cancer, it'd be nice to see some earth-shattering breakthroughs in the field.

Re:How does it evade the immune system? (3, Informative)

lockefire (691775) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889426)

From the original article in Cell:

A recent study (Hsiao et al., 2004) shows that, during progressive growth, secretion of TGF-b1 by CTVT acts as a potent local inhibitor of host immune responses, as does the downmodulation of DLA class I and II expression observed by us and others (Cohen et al., 1984).

DLA is basically the dog immune system method of identifying 'self'. These tumor cells are hiding the fact that they are not-'self' well enough that they easily overwhelm any immune response.

Tasmanian Devils have it worse... (4, Interesting)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889095)

Tasmanian Devils are being wiped out by a transmissable cancer called Devil Facial Tumor Disease [wikipedia.org], its a pretty hideous disease that eventually causes the animals to starve to death as they are unable to eat. It is transmitted when Tasmanian Devils fight each other. It is estimated 100% fatal within 12-18 months, it is estimated that over half of all remaining Tasmanian Devils in the wild have it, and it has decimated their population.

Re:Tasmanian Devils have it worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889309)

Decimated?

Decimated means that one in ten have died. If over half those remaining have it, it sounds a lot worse than merely decimated.

Kill all the dogs! (-1, Flamebait)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889100)

I hate dogs anyway. Kill em all. And the cats, they are even worse.

Personally, I think that in some countries (Australia, NZ), cats and dogs should not be allowed at all. The amount of damage they do to the environment is incredible.

And it has always been strange to me, that some people have all these pets, why others are starving somewhere else in the world. I guess I am a hypocrit in many ways, but that has always disturbed me... for some reason.

Re:Kill all the dogs! (1)

Blisshead (959178) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889166)

We created the problem with random careless breeding and irresponsible ownership, we have a responsibility to the animals at this point. Also, dogs are cool.

Re:Kill all the dogs! (4, Insightful)

k3vlar (979024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889213)

I see that you have never owned a cat or dog. It can be a very rewarding experience, caring for something like that.

Having said that, I agree with your views about how some people seem to value the lives of animals over other human beings.
I saw a commercial once that truly sickened me. They were asking for donations to help save captive bears in an empoverished third world country! I couldn't believe that someone could ask for money to save bears, instead of helping the PEOPLE that couldn't afford enough food. The bears were being held captive to be put on display to earn donations from passers-by, and I thought, "How stupid can this donation organization be! Solve the people problem, and you also solve the bear problem!"

Animal rights groups sicken me sometimes.

Idiot Alert (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889215)

You ARE a hypocrite. If you're so damn concered about 'the starving children', why don't you do something about all the fat (and getting fatter) humans in the world? To me this is far more offensive than people sharing their lives with domestic animals.

Also, kill all pets, when humans are the worst offenders to the environment? Never mind that pets greatly improve a human's quality of life and have as much right to exist on this planet as a human. Clearly you have never experienced the love given to you freely and simply by a pet.

I feel sorry for you, and am disgusted by you.

Re:Idiot Alert- Why do you assume you know all abo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889308)

ut the Grand Parent. The GP may be donating heavily to charities to help people, but you blast with only the knowledge you have from their post. Lighten up, you sound like you do think animals are more important than people. Nut case if you do.

Cancer..... sounds more like a new life form (1, Interesting)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889105)

Weird..... these cancer cells have evolved an ability not only to metastasized to different parts of a dog's body but to other dogs too. At this point I really don't think we should call them cancer cells anymore..... they are a new type of free living organism.... like a parasite. I wonder why they are restricted to only infecting other dogs? Does interspecies transmission produce too much of an immune response in a different host?

Re:Cancer..... sounds more like a new life form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889236)

Interesting that you compare it to a parasite, I wonder if this is one of the evolutionary routes that ancestors to current parasites like tapeworms, or lampreys took.

It could be an explanation why alot of parasites are so simple, biologically speaking.

confusing (3, Interesting)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889124)

FTA:
A cancer cell is usually an animal's or person's own cell..

..the cells are not genetically related to the dogs they are in -- proof that they did not arise from the dogs' own cells.

..all the tumor cells, no matter where they were collected, are clones of each other.

If every cell of this cancer is a clone, and not the dog's own cells screwing up, then I'd say this is more like an infection. An alien organism has invaded the dog's body and then replicates. What's the difference (in terms of the vector) between this and a bacterial infection (also single-celled)?

rebuild the original dog (1)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889173)

Well, if you repaired whatever damage occurred to turn the cells cancerous you could recover the original dog!

Try doing that with bacteria.

(I Am Not A Biologist, so this is quite likely a stupid idea)

Re:confusing (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889284)

An alien organism has invaded the dog's body and then replicates. What's the difference (in terms of the vector) between this and a bacterial infection (also single-celled)?
The alien thing is a dog cell, not a bacterium or a virus or a protozoan or a prion or a parasite. It is an infectious disease, yes, but a different variety. If a doctor exclaims, eureka, malaria is caused by a protozoan and not bacterium, and you respond, "well, same difference," then you should stop reading general interest health science articles.

Sad (1)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889150)

Part of me feels very sorry for all these poor animals. Another Part of me is really itching to make witty comments about Nature's population controls and how humans will be next.

now.. (0, Troll)

ooMissioNoo (994313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889165)

You may not relize this guys. But just like aids, it is mostly spready by homosexuals. (that was not meant to be homophobic. It was a refrence to the very exact thing they said about aids)

Original peer-reviewed Cell link (4, Informative)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889167)

In this table of contents [cell.com] go to "Clonal Origin and Evolution of a Transmissible Cancer". Summary:
The transmissible agent causing canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT) is thought to be the tumor cell itself. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed genetic markers including major histocompatibility (MHC) genes, microsatellites, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in naturally occurring tumors and matched blood samples. In each case, the tumor is genetically distinct from its host. Moreover, tumors collected from 40 dogs in 5 continents are derived from a single neoplastic clone that has diverged into two subclades. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that CTVT most likely originated from a wolf or an East Asian breed of dog between 200 and 2500 years ago. Although CTVT is highly aneuploid, it has a remarkably stable genotype. During progressive growth, CTVT downmodulates MHC antigen expression. Our findings have implications for understanding genome instability in cancer, natural transplantation of allografts, and the capacity of a somatic cell to evolve into a transmissible parasite.


This is just great. This is worse that prions.

Re:Original peer-reviewed Cell link (2, Insightful)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889318)

This is worse than prions.
I don't think so. You can quarantine this, and stay away. With prions, you never see them coming. And then your brain melts.

Re:Original peer-reviewed Cell link (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889319)

Its not.
Its not even deadly, as most dogs immune system will be able to supress the infection in a matter of months.
Those "external tumor infections" have all the weaknesses of living cells without the protection a normal cancer cell has by being hard to distinguish from "good" cells. (while prions are just a pain in the ass to kill)

Re:Original peer-reviewed Cell link (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889378)

Still it might be kind of useful that these are universal dog cells - they can grow in any dog without triggering an immune response. I guess that's what 'downmodulates MHC antigen expression' means. Imagine if you had universal stem cells that could be used to 'repair' anyone.

Admittedly injecting people with things like this seems to have a high cancer risk, but maybe you could make a sort of anti-cancer with a much reduced hayflick limit [wikipedia.org] rather than a much increased one. You could build in a safety measure too, like a sensitivity to a drug which is harmless to most cells. Maybe more than one drug actually, since they may develop drug resistance.

How about other forms of cancer? (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889175)

Makes me wonder if other forms of cancer might turn out to transmissible? Yikes.

Wouldn't it be ironic if some of the tendency of families to be more susceptible to the same form of cancer turns out to be related to the fact that family members often live together or go and visit when a relative has a serious cancer? Eweesh.

If you think AIDS has stigma - wait until some researcher finds a hint that some forms of human cancer may be transmissible through contact or otherwise.

We did a survey (3, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889239)

The dogs said that it was a "Ruff" deal...

The Tasmanian Devils just spun around quickly, said something completely incomprehensible and blew a rasberry...

test of species differentiation? (2, Interesting)

stites (993570) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889254)

These tumor cells will grow in any dog. It would be interesting to see if they will infect closely related species. Will they grow in wolves, coyotes, jackals, etc.? Are there any breeds of dogs which are immune to these tumor cells? Will they grow in prey bitten by a dog, such as rabbits? One possible use for these tumor cells could be to determine how closely other species are related to dogs.

----------------
Steve Stites

Stephen Colbert's Formula 401 Saves America (-1, Troll)

Erectile Dysfunction (994340) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889271)

To hear him tell it, Stephen Colbert was only attempting to increase the truthiness of children's school reports on the family Elephantidae when he was called upon by his nation to be a hero. While merrily editing the Wikipedia entry for Slashdot to inform the tykes that the elephant population had tripled after the graduation of Rob Malda, Stephen Colbert accidentally clicked on a link to Slashdot's front page only to read the terrible news: cancer cells were transmissible through sexual intercourse.

With a faint smile and a patriotic gleam in his eye, Stephen told me of the speed with which he realized what needed to be done: the production of Stephen Colbert's Formula 401 would need to be rapidly increased to war-time levels and a blitzkrieg campaign would need to be unleashed in order to inform everyone of the dangers of having sex. "Married couples seeking to make America great through raising families are going to need a new source of seed, and they need to know it," Stephen informed me knowingly.

When asked how urgent the problem really was Stephen curtly responded, "If couples continue to engage in monogamous sexual intercourse then all of the couples in the country will die from this terrible cancer, and then who will raise their children? Every child needs a mother and father as God intended."

I was only able to spend a few more moments with Mr. Colbert before he informed me that he needed to leave to oversee an immediate increase in production, but I was able to learn that my interview would only be the tip of the iceberg of the forthcoming media campaign. "Everyone in America will hear learn about this emerging crisis and its solution when they watch my show tonight, and like the heroes they are will jump into action by handsomely paying me for my seed."

Some Informative Links (3, Informative)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15889310)

A Readable Technical Discussion of Stickers Sarcoma [scienceblogs.com] and Canine TVT - 2004 to Congress [vin.com].

Excerpt on Geographical Distribution from the latter: TVT is seldom or no more detected in North and Central Europe and in North America, mainly due to the population control of stray animals, the preventive pre-breeding examination and the effective treatment of clinical cases. With a few exceptions, TVT remains endemic in the rest of the world, obviously because of the uncontrolled population of stray dogs and the inadequacies of exerting effective treatments.

Cripes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15889413)

Wasn't this a David Cronenberg movie??
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