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Critically Speaking

Dec 9, 2020

In this episode, Therese and Dr. Michael Metzger talk about various forms of cancer that are contagious, in other words, it can be passed from one individual to another.  More of these are being discovered across a range of animal species.  Some of the cases involve vertebrate animals and others, invertebrates such as clams and mussels.  They discuss how the fates of infected individuals vary from resistance to death and the implications for resistance to human cancer therapies. 


Key Takeaways:  

  • Dogs pass cancer by mating, resulting in tumors in the reproductive tract. 
  • Tasmanian Devils pass cancer by biting during fights. 
  • In marine mollusks, the cancer is thought to be spread in the water. 
  • None of these cancers have been found to pass to humans. 
  • The fact that some individuals are resistant, suggests that mechanisms exist which can be exploited in treating human cancers, once resistance is understood. 


“We think that, by understanding these really extreme cases of cancer transmission in the wild, we can understand things that we wouldn’t be able to learn from just studying human cancers." —  Dr. Michael Metzger 


Connect with Dr. Michael Metzger: 

PNRI Profile: Metzger Lab    

Twitter: @themetzgerm 

NIH Bibliography: Michael Metzger’s Bibliography    


Connect with Therese:  


Twitter: @CritiSpeak  




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