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Metzger Lab

The Metzger lab found cancer cells in clams that “jump” from one animal to the next. Studying this unique cancer opens up a new window into better understanding how cancer spreads, and, hopefully, how to prevent it as well.

The Metzger lab at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI) is driven to better understand how cancer evolves over time, and why some people get it and others do not. We do this with clams — studying a rare occurrence where cancer is transmitted from one clam to another.

In human cancers, the most dangerous cancer cells can move from one place in the body to another. These are called metastatic cancer cells. Our lab is studying a unique cancer cell found in clams that goes even further. These cancer cells “jump” into entirely new animals, over and over.

This extreme version of cancer provides a unique way to shed new light on how cancer works. Further, by exploring why some clams are able to be resistant to this contagious cancer, Michael and his team hope to better understand how humans can also resist developing cancers of all types.

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