Devil Facial Tumour Disease

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.

New research suggests that Tasmanian devils are evolving resistance to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), which has seen devil populations decline by between 80% and 90%. Following the extinction of the thylacine in the 1930s, devils have become the top marsupial predator, keeping numbers of feral cats at bay. With the decline of the devils, feral cats have grown in numbers and small mammals on which cats prey have declined. Scientists have identified significant changes in DNA samples of devils from regions with DFTD.
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