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Story behind the paper

last modified Oct 07, 2020 03:02 PM

Our latest study on selfish mitochondria in the canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) was recently published in Nature CommunicationsHow did this discovery come about? What were the major turning points in our research? Are you interested to look behind the scenes of this latest CTVT article?

You can read more in the Story behind the paper recently published on the Nature Research Cancer Community website.

Credit:Katherine-Polak/FOUR-PAWS

 

Well done Dr. Maximilian R. Stammnitz!

last modified Oct 02, 2020 03:43 PM

Another TCG PhD, Dr. Maximilian R. Stammnitz, successfully passed his virtual PhD viva on the 7th September 2020!

Huge congratulations to Max to finish his PhD in style during this difficult time, WELL DONE!!! TCG members gathered together after his viva to celebrate his big day.

Selfish mitochondria in a canine transmissible cancer

last modified Jun 16, 2020 03:35 PM

A new study by the Transmissible Cancer Group published in Nature Communications today!

Previous research has shown that at several points in history, mitochondria - which are compartments providing cells with their energy - from unrelated host dogs have been captured by CTVT, perhaps to aid survival of this long-lived cancer lineage. The capture of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) by canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) creates a unique opportunity to understand the competitive dynamics of two types of mtDNA juxtaposed within the same cell.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications today, we show that one particular type of mtDNA - named A1d1a - has been recurrently captured by CTVT cancer cells on eleven independent occasions. A1d1a is highly over-represented for CTVT mitochondrial capture compared with its frequency in the dog population. Genetic analysis of this mitochondrial type revealed the presence of an insertion at position 16660 of the mtDNA, which appears to reduce transcription - or the reading - of the mtDNA. We propose that A1d1a mitochondria unexpectedly win the race through a ‘selfish’ replicative advantage - by replicating more efficiently - rather than by providing a functional advantage. Apart from providing insights into the characteristics enabling the spread of this cancer that has ‘metastasised’ on a global scale, this work is of much broader importance, as understanding the competitive dynamics of mtDNA is crucial for advancing knowledge of mtDNA genetic disease and assessing the risks of therapeutic mtDNA transplantation in human embryos.

 

CTVT selfish mitochondria
A model explaining repeated CTVT capture of the A1d1a mitochondria. (1) Different types of mitochondria are captured by CTVT cells, (2) but A1d1a mitochondria have a specific insertion at position 16660 of the mtDNA, (3) causing reduction in transcription – or the reading of – the mtDNA in A1d1a, (4) suggesting that A1d1a wins the competition through a replicative (rather than functional) advantage.

 

This work was carried out at the Transmissible Cancer Group, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. Thanks to veterinary collaborators from across the globe, the team collected and analysed 539 CTVT tumours from 43 countries in this study. If you would be interested to participate in future studies carried out by the Transmissible Cancer Group as a collaborator through collecting CTVT samples, or if you have any further questions, please, do not hesitate to contact us!

 

Article citation: Strakova, A. et al. Recurrent horizontal transfer identifies mitochondrial positive selection in a transmissible cancer. Nat Commun 11, 3059 (2020).

The article is featured in the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights!

 

Interested further? See where this story began:

 

 

 

TCG PhD graduate Adrian Baez-Ortega won Weintraub Graduate student Award for 2020!

last modified Mar 02, 2020 03:31 PM

Many congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega, who won Weintraub Graduate student Award for 2020!

The Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recognizes outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences. This is a very prestigious international graduate student award from the US!  Awardees will participate in a scientific symposium honoring Weintraub and his commitment to innovative science. The award symposium will take place May 1, 2020, at Fred Hutch's Robert W. Day Campus. Adrain will go to Seattle for the award ceremony in May. Well done Adrain!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_M._Weintraub

Many congratulations to Dr. Maire Ni Leathlobhair

last modified Dec 20, 2019 02:58 PM

TCG second PhD, Dr. Maire Ni Leathlobhair, was officially graduated!

Maire obtained her PhD from Cambridge in 2018 and used computational and statistical modelling of genomic data to understand the origin and evolution of transmissible cancer. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Cancer Genomics group led by Dr David Wedge at the Oxford Big Data Institute.

Many congratulations to Maire from all TCG members and we wish her all the best at her new job in Oxford!

TCG collaborator from Argentina, Dr. María Verónica Brignone , visited TCG group at Cambridge for 2 weeks in September 2019

last modified Nov 08, 2019 11:31 AM

Dr. María Verónica Brignone is a Vet from Argentina, who has collected CTVT tumour biopsies from dogs in Argentina and hosted a visit from a TCG PhD at Argentina previously. During her 2 weeks visit in September, Maria extracted genomic DNA from these CTVT samples and performed PCR analysis for genetic analysis to determine how CTVT in Argentina differs from CTVT tumours collected from other countries. Maria also gave a very interesting presentation of her work at TCG lab meeting and went on our Annual TCG punting trip with us!

We are very pleased that Maria enjoyed her visit at Cambridge and wish we will continue to collaborate with her and her colleagues at Argentina in the future!

 

Congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega, who won Award from the Kennel Club!

last modified Jun 07, 2019 05:03 PM

Congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega , who has been awarded the 2019 Canine Health Awards Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award from the Kennel Club. Adrian will receive £10,000, which he will use to support research on CTVT. Find more information about the award here.

TCG in the news

last modified Oct 23, 2018 06:58 PM
TCG in the news

"She has her mother's laugh" by Carl Zimmer

TCG science has recently featured in several books and news articles. An article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung profiled Elizabeth Murchison and her research on transmissible cancers. Transmissible cancers, and TCG science, were covered in Carl Zimmer's new book on heredity She has her mother's laughMáire Ní Leathlobhair's recent paper on the origin of CTVT was covered in the popular press, including an interesting article in the New York Times

Stay tuned for more TCG news!

TCG summer student Sarah Cox awarded a BBSRC studentship

last modified Oct 23, 2018 06:40 PM

Sarah Cox, a pre-clinical Cambridge vet student who performed a summer project at TCG has been awarded a BBSRC studentship.

The UK Veterinary Summer Studentship Programme aims to inspire UK veterinary undergraduates to consider a career in research by funding summer studentships to be undertaken in world-class research environments in any BBSRC eligible institute. 

Congratulations, Sarah!

TCG field trip to Tasmania

last modified Oct 23, 2018 06:44 PM
TCG field trip to Tasmania

TCG in Freycinet, East Coast Tasmania

This summer, TCG members Elizabeth Murchison, Max Stammnitz, Young Mi Kwon and Kevin Gori spent a few weeks in Tasmania performing Tasmanian devil field work. They joined devil trapping trips in the Channel Peninsula, where both DFTDs (DFT1 and DFT2) are present, and in the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania's East Coast. They saw many devils, both healthy and diseased, and shared scientific results and findings with collaborators.

 

Soheil Afshari, a vet student from Iran, visited TCG and carried out research on CTVT

last modified Oct 23, 2018 06:45 PM

Soheil Afshari, a student at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Garmsar University, Iran, recently visited TCG from 9th July – 23rd July, 2018.
Soheil collected CTVT tumour biopsies from dogs in Iran. During his visit, Soheil extracted genomic DNA from these CTVT samples, performed PCR and genetic analysis to determine how CTVT in Iran differs from CTVT tumours collected from other countries. He also gave an presentation of his work at the end of his visit.

Well done Soheil, we wish you all the best for your PhD!

Digging up the ancient origin of a contagious canine cancer

last modified Jul 13, 2018 11:15 AM
Digging up the ancient origin of a contagious canine cancer

Photograph by Del Baston, courtesy of the Center for American Archeology

New research from TCG reveals that the canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) first emerged from a dog that was closely related to an intriguing group of ancient North American dogs. 

The research, published in Sciencereports that dogs arrived into North America together with people more than 10,000 years ago. By sequencing ancient DNA from dog bones collected from many sites across North America, we found that these dogs belong to a single genetic lineage that is related to modern-day Arctic breeds, such as huskies. Remarkably, however, these dogs appear to have largely disappeared since the arrival of Europeans 500 years ago.

One genetic legacy of these dogs does remain however: CTVT first arose from an animal that was related to these native American dogs. Thus, this worldwide cancer may be the closest remaining genetic vestige of a group of dogs that once roamed a continent.

Congratulations to Máire Ní Leathlobhair, co-first author on the study. The work was a large collaboration including scientists at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Durham.

Our collaborator from South Africa, Mirjam van der Wel, gave a presentation at EASTERN CAPE VETERINARY CONGRESS on 4th May 2018

last modified May 18, 2018 03:39 PM

Our collaborator from South Africa, Mirjam van der Wel, gave a presentation "Canine transmissible venereal tumours" at the EASTERN CAPE VETERINARY CONGRESS on 4th of May 2018. It was well received by the audience and we are grateful that M. is spreading the knowledge of CTVT and our research amongst the clinical veterinary audience. Thank you for your enthusiasm, and congratulations, Mirjam! If you would also be interested to get involved in our research by collecting samples, see the following page for further info https://www.tcg.vet.cam.ac.uk/Research/get-involved-in-CTVT-research

WELL DONE Mirjam!!!

TCG member, Máire Ní Leathlobhair, recently visited our collaborators in Argentina

last modified Apr 13, 2018 01:53 PM

TCG member, Máire Ní Leathlobhair, recently returned from a field trip to Argentina. Máire's trip was funded by a Santander Mobility grant awarded by the University of Cambridge. In Argentina, she worked with vets and researchers based at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) as well as the Catholic University of Córdoba (UCC), to collect samples and to study the prevalence of CTVT in Argentinian street dogs. We wish to say a huge thank you to Dr. María Verónica Brignone (UBA), Dr. César Koci, and Dr. Diego Graiff (UCC) as well as all of the fantastic veterinary hospital staff who helped with the sampling.

"The Origins and Vulnerabilities of Two Transmissible Cancers in Tasmanian Devils" published on Cancer Cell!

last modified Apr 10, 2018 12:30 PM

Many congratulations to Maximilian R. Stammnitz's new paper published on Cancer Cell, April 9, 2018!!

http://www.cell.com/cancer-cell/pdfExtended/S1535-6108(18)30117-X

Well done Max and everyone!!

 

BBC News

Tasmanian devil cancers targeted by human drugs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-43698885

 

Cambridge University Research News

Human anti-cancer drugs could help treat transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils

https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/human-anti-cancer-drugs-could-help-treat-transmissible-cancers-in-tasmanian-devils

Master student Mr. Juan Carlos Ramirez Ante from University of Caldas, Colombia visited TCG

last modified Feb 05, 2018 11:19 AM

Mr. Juan Carlos Ramirez Ante from University of Caldas, Colombia, came to visit TCG for two weeks in January 2018. Juan is a Veterinarian and currently doing his Master degree at Professor Francisco Pedraza's group at University of Caldas.  Professor Pedraza and Juan are collaborators of our ongoing CTVT projects and had sent us hundreds of CTVT samples in the past few years. He spent two weeks with TCG members learning experimental methods for the analysis of Canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT), and investigated the journey of CTVT tissue samples from the biopsy to genomic DNA sequencing. We will also further develop a joint project on CTVT chemotherapy response.

 

 

Elizabeth Murchison joins EMBO Young Investigator Programme

last modified Nov 26, 2017 05:14 PM

Elizabeth Murchison has been elected as part of the 2017 intake of the EMBO Young Investigator Programme for young European researchers in life sciences. 

 

EMBL Cancer Genomics poster prize won by Maximilian Stammnitz

last modified Nov 26, 2017 05:05 PM

Congratulations to Maximilian Stammnitz, who has won first prize for his poster “Disease doppelgängers: genomic characterisation of two transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils” at the EMBL Cancer Genomics Conference in Heidelberg!

Adrian Baez-Ortega wins Abcam Prize

last modified Nov 26, 2017 05:03 PM

Many congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega, who won the 2017 Abcam Prize for Graduate Research at the Department of Veterinary Medicine! Adrian's research focuses on understanding the diversity and evolution of the canine transmissible venereal tumour.

Alex Sampson receives award for best project in Part II Pathology

last modified Jun 27, 2017 06:25 PM

TCG Part II student Alex Sampson won the Prize for best project in Part II Pathology (Cancer and Genetic Diseases) for his project "Characterising somatically arising nuclear insertions of mitochondrial DNA (NuMTs) in Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour".

Many congratulations Alex!

Computational approaches for discovery of mutational signatures in cancer

last modified Jun 27, 2017 02:41 PM

Many congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega and Kevin Gori on their new review, 'Computational approaches for discovery of mutational signatures in cancer' (BIB-17-0115.R1), which has been accepted for publication in Briefings in Bioinformatics on the 27th June 2017.

Well done both of you!

Andrea Strakova receives Kennel Club Award

last modified Jun 06, 2017 06:14 PM
Andrea Strakova receives Kennel Club Award

Andrea Strakova receiving her Kennel Club Award. Image courtesy of the Kennel Club.

Congratulations to Andrea Strakova, who has been awarded the 2017 Canine Health Awards Postgraduate Student Inspiration Award from the Kennel Club. Andrea will receive £10,000, which she will use to support her postdoctoral research on CTVT. Find more information about the award here.

CSAR Award for Andrea Strakova

last modified Jun 06, 2017 06:10 PM
CSAR Award for Andrea Strakova

Andrea Strakova receiving her CSAR Award

Andrea Strakova has been selected as one of twelve recipients of the 2017 Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR) student awards. The awards recognise excellence in research by postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge. Andrea’s research is on the evolution and host interactions of the canine transmissible venereal tumour. More information on the awards can be found here. Congratulations Andrea!

TCG attend the Canine and Feline Genomics Conference

last modified Jun 06, 2017 06:02 PM
TCG attend the Canine and Feline Genomics Conference

Conference dinner in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Several TCG members attended the 9th International Conference on Canine and Feline Genomics in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Congratulations to Adrian Baez-Ortega who won a Student Travel Award for best student abstract.

Dr. Rodrigo Hamede visits the TCG

last modified May 19, 2017 12:02 PM

Dr. Rodrigo Hamede from the University of Tasmania, came to visit the TCG this week. Rodrigo is a colleague working on Tasmanian devils, we had a nice discussion about our current projects and future collaborations.  

The 6th China Small Animal Veterinary Physician Conference April 2017

last modified May 15, 2017 11:48 AM

TCG member Dr. Tracy Wang recently attended "The 6th China Small Animal Veterinary Physician Conference", which was held in Haikou, China, April 10-13, 2017. China Small Animal Veterinary Physician Conference has been recognized as the industry's most authoritative in mainland China,  it provides the best platform for the highest level of lecturers for practicing small animal vets continuing education, fantastic opportunities for Chinese and foreign small animal clinical technology exchange and international collaboration. Tracy has successfully set up the link between TCG group and small animal vets in China. We are looking forward for many more collaborations in the future.

TCG Christmas Party 2016

last modified Dec 25, 2016 06:21 PM

The 2016 TCG Christmas Party! Merry Christmas everyone!

ERC Starter Grant for TCG alumnus Jose Tubio

last modified Sep 07, 2016 04:12 PM

Many congratulations to TCG former postdoc Jose Tubio, who has been awarded a highly competitive ERC Starter Grant. The grant will allow Jose, who is now a faculty member at the University of Vigo, Spain, http://darwin.uvigo.es/mobgenomes/ to start up an exciting research programme on transmissible cancers in marine bivalves. Congratulations, Jose!

Human anti-cancer drugs could help treat transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils

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