Scientists Find Contagious Cancer In Clams, Begging The Question — Will It Arise In Humans Too?
It's possible, one scientist says. But no one should start to panic yet. In other oncology news, the president signed a law to document and track cancer clusters around the country, a New Hampshire task force investigates a cluster in its state and several prominent cancer centers announced they'll collaborate with a biopharmaceutical company to help accelerate research on new, life-saving therapies.
The Washington Post:
Scientists Just Doubled The Number Of Known Contagious Cancers
All along the western Canadian coast, mussels are dying. Their blobby bodies are swollen by tumors. The blood-like fluid that fills their interiors is clogged with malignant cells. They're all sick with the same thing: cancer. And it seems to be spreading. For all its harrowing, terrifying damage, the saving grace of cancer has always been that it dies with its host. Its destructive power comes from turning victims' own cells against them and making them run amok. But when molecular biologist Stephen Goff biopsied these mussels, he found something strange. The tumor cells didn't have the same DNA as their host. (Kaplan, 6/22)
The New York Times:
Cancer Is Contagious Among Clams. What About Us?
With eight contagious cancers now on the books, Dr. Murchison has started to wonder if they are not as peculiar as previously thought. “They might be emerging fairly often,” she said. So should people worry about an outbreak of infectious cancer? “I don’t think we should be starting to panic,” Dr. Murchison said. There have been rare reports of people transmitting cancer. An estimated 0.04 percent of organ transplant recipients contract cancer from the donor organ, for example. But in these cases, the cancer does not spread like a true parasite from host to host. Yet it’s not inconceivable that a human cancer might gain that power. (Zimmer, 6/22)
Survivor’s Hope Becomes Law: Cancer Clusters Will Be Tracked
President Barack Obama signed “Trevor’s Law” on Wednesday, legislation named after a Boise man that will require the federal government to document and track cancer clusters around the nation. ...Trevor’s Law will require the government to document and track childhood and adult cancer clusters in Idaho and around the nation. In 2013, [Trevor] Schaefer joined cancer activist Erin Brockovich and others to testify for the legislation on Capitol Hill. (Hotakainen, 6/22)
New Hampshire Public Radio:
Task Force Meets On Seacoast Cancer Cluster
Officials from the state Departments of Health and Human Services and Environmental Services, along with lawmakers and area residents met in Portsmouth today for the first meeting of a new task force on the investigation of a cancer cluster on the Seacoast. (Moon, 6/22)
The Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio Boy, 15, Who Beat Cancer Twice, Pushes For More Federal Research Money
Now 15, Grant (Reed) is a survivor of two tumors. Wednesday, he walked across Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers from Ohio, urging them to support giving more federal dollars for cancer research, part of Nationwide Children's Hospital's annual lobbying day in Washington. During his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama announced a new cancer “ moonshot” initiative to accelerate cancer research. ... This month, a Senate panel passed a spending bill that gave the National Institutes of Health a $2 billion boost. The House has yet to pass an alternative. But the Reeds are hopeful. (Wehrman, 6/23)
The Baltimore Sun:
Hopkins, Three Other Cancer Centers Collaborate On Life-Saving Treatments With Celgene
Prominent cancer centers in Baltimore, New York and Pennsylvania -- including the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins -- said Wednesday they would collaborate with the biopharmaceutical company Celgene Corp. to accelerate research that could produce new, life-saving cancer therapies. (Cohn, 6/22)