The oceans are home to innumerable and diverse species of marine life. A new paper, published in Nature, suggests that the watery medium that nourishes and protects this life may also promote the spread of certain cancers, both within and across species.

The study, performed by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, with collaborators in Canada and Spain, examined a variety of mollusks harboring a form of cancer known as disseminated neoplasia, a leukemia-like disease that affects populations of bivalves in many parts of the world. The team has discovered that in several species, cancer cells themselves were spreading from animal to animal as a contagious clonal cell line. READ MORE