Scientists trace 11,000-year-old canine cancer back to its original source

When you say cancer, most of us think about the various forms that affect humans. Cancer can also affect other animals, such as the dog. Dogs have the distinction of having the world's oldest continually surviving cancer. This particular form of canine cancer has been around for 11,000 years.

Scientists say that while most cancers in humans have been around only long enough to perform between 1000 and 5000 mutations, this 11,000 year-old canine cancer has mutated around two million times. A team of scientists has sequenced the genome of the ancient canine cancer and has found out details about the first animal to spread the disease.

The team used one type of mutation found in the cancer as a molecular clock and estimated that the cancer first appeared 11,000 years ago. Interestingly the genetic material of the first animal to have suffered from the condition was also passed along with the cancer gene.

The scientists say that the first animal to suffer from this particular cancer likely resembled an Alaskan Malamute or Husky. They believe the animal had a short, straight coat that was grey/brown or black. The scientists say that they have no idea why that particular animal gave rise to a transmissible cancer. Dogs around the world continue to be afflicted with the same cancer today. The spread is believed to have started when sailors in the age of exploration took dogs with them on their voyages.

SOURCE: News Track India