Friday, August 11, 2006

Contagious Dog Cancer

Scientists at the University College London have found a strain of cancer in dogs that is able to pass from one dog to another. Sticker's sarcoma, a usually non fatal cancer, typically resides in the dogs' genital tracts, and thus doesn't have to travel far to infect another dog during sex (it can also be passed by biting and licking). The original source of this cancer colony may have lived over 1000 years ago. Unlike most cancers, the genetic stability of Sticker's sarcoma has been credited with it's evolutionary success in surviving for so long.
You can also read some more about it at Scienceblogs

It's just weird to think about. Over a thousand years ago, some dog was born, and even today it's genetic code is still running around. Just imagine cutting off the tip of your finger, but it didn't die, it just kept on living and growing. I don't know how many cancer cells there would typically be in an infected dog, but lets just say 10 gram of mass. Assuming the average mass of a dog 25kg, it would take 2500 infections to get the mass of the original dog. According to MapsoftheWorld , there are 61,080,000 dogs in the united states. Assuming an infection rate of 3% (random number, not based on fact), that would be the same mass as 732 copies of the original dog. And that's just dogs living right now in the United States.

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