Faced with extinction, the devils fight back

Devil with DFTD

The researchers looked at animals at risk of catching transmissible cancer, known as devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), which has been driving the species toward possible extinction over the past two decades, and found unexpected signs of immunity, including elevated levels of certain immune system molecules which reduce their likelihood of getting the disease.

Active immune responses to DFTD and even tumour regression have recently been observed in several animals, showing a very promising sign that could be exploited for the management of the species,” says lead author Beata Ujvari from Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences in Melbourne, Australia.

Read all about it: Research finds clues that Tasmanian devils are adapting to the cancer that threatens their existence by Andrew P Street @ Cosmos – The Science of Everything.