Clams along the United States' eastern coastline are suffering from cancer. Like the "bug" in the Tasmanian devil it spreads from individual contact. Rogue cells jump between clams by floating in the water. The most common cancer of clams is leukemia - the sea creatures have a circulatory system.
The find happened because Carol Reinisch of Massachusetts Marine Biology Laboratory (who works on soft-shell clams) asked Stephen Goof of Columbia University to look for clams getting cancer by a virus. He was shocked to discover a toxic cell that spreads cancer all along the eastern seaboard.
Only two other cases of the spread of cancer by cells are known. One is decimating the Tasmanian devil. The other is transmitted sexually in dogs. At present Geoff Goff's research is supposition. A lab experiment which shows cancer spreading by a cell in water has not yet been done.
Scientists will soon carry out the relevant test. Then we will know whether something dangerous has been discovered. Though people cannot get cancer by eating clams, there could be a danger of getting the same or similar cancer by swimming in water contaminated by the cells.
✴ Biology by Ty Buchanan ✴