Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dinosaur tumours, cured in our lifetime?

Would you believe a dinosaur tumour is being studied for human cancer clues? tells us:
Cancer in dinosaurs and illnesses in other animals are being studied in a groundbreaking new program that combines medical school with the study of natural history.

Despite being millions of years removed from our time and our own species, illnesses in animals like the dinosaurs can shed light on the evolution of human disease, says Christopher Beard, curator and specialist in vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

Some diseases that afflict humans today, such as malaria, gout, and cancer, are truly ancient and were handed down to us from our distant ancestors. By studying the distribution of these diseases in other living and fossil organisms, we can gain insights into the nature of these diseases.

Four curators from the Carnegie Museum will be teaching seminars and utilizing the museum collection which includes a 150-million-year-old fossilized dinosaur bone complete with a tumor.

Finding such a growth doesn't surprise surgeon and University of Southern California professor, Michael Kennedy, who said, "Cancer is the most common cause of death in animals. It is not a uniquely human disease."

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