Scientists discover cancer that can spread like a virus in Spain

Image of surgeons in an operating room.

Scientists discover ancient cancer in Spain. Credit: Sasin Tipchai, Pixabay

Scientists from all around the world have discovered a transmissible ancient type of cancer in Spain.

A study has been posted which shows a strain of an ancient type of leukaemia-like cancer has indeed been spreading quietly, but rapidly amongst shellfish for centuries without people ever knowing.

This transmissible tumour is able to scarily float freely in the water just like microscopic bacteria before then being taken up by clams throughout the ocean, which then allows it to multiply and move onto a new host and continue its attack.

According to scientists, contagious cancer has not been widely feared or worried about in the modern world with only a few rare occasions has this happened, mainly when mothers have passed it onto their children when pregnant.

Ancient cancer discovered in Spanish oceans

The way that this type of cancer is transferred about the ocean is very similar to Tasmanian devils who manage to pick up these cancerous cells when fighting and biting each other, as well as among dogs who can pass it onto each other when mating.

This latest research is quite the revelation for science and the team consisting of British and Europeans led by Dr Adrian Baez-Ortega have conducted tests on 7,000 cockles, edible molluscs similar to clams.

It’s this sort of research that has seen them go far and wide to get the relative results including taking samples from 11 countries including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco and the United Kingdom between 2016 and 2021.

For this type of cancer, it is believed bivalve transmissible neoplasia (BTN) which means it enters via the gills before then spreading throughout the mollusc’s circulatory system and early signs suggest that this transmissable cancer is unlike anything seen before in animals.

How could this discovery help in the fight against other cancers?

Spain’s Dr Alicia Bruzos has claimed these findings to be very useful as humans look to continue their fight against cancer, he said: “Having a wider view of the different types of transmissible cancers can give us more insight into the conditions necessary for tumours to evolve and survive long-term.”

According to this report, the places that have been identified to have this ancient cancer in the ocean are Espasante, Barallobre, Rio Anllons, Camarinas, Noia, Muros, Carril, Combarro, Moana, and Baiona.

They are all the locations in Spain, but other countries are indeed experiencing the same fate including Dublin, Wexford, Cork, Inch Beach, Westport, Swansea, Roscoff, Aveiro and the Algarve.

While this clearly isn’t transmissible from shellfish to humans, it is still a significant breakthrough as science looks to beat cancer once and for all in the future as this could now allow them to understand how certain cancers can grow and adapt to conditions over a longer period of time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Aaron Hindhaugh

Qualified and experienced journalist covering all aspects of news and sport. Specialist in both Men's and Women's football with increasing coverage of golf and tennis.