Scientists cure Tasmanian devil facial tumours

March 17, 2017

For the first time scientists have cured Tasmanian devils suffering from the deadly devil facial tumour disease by injecting live cancer cells into infected devils to make their immune system recognise the disease and fight it off.

Five devils with the disease were treated using the technique over six years, and three survived.

UTAS professor of immunology Professor Greg Woods said: "We used the cancer cells, cultured them in a laboratory, and made them express genes that made them visible to the devils' immune systems.” He hopes the research will help develop a more effective vaccine.

Since it appeared 20 years ago, the disease has killed up to 95% of the wild devil population.

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