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Immune system of critically endangered Tasmanian devils is now - successfully - cancer
Animals critically endangered Tasmanian devils are already more than 30 years plagued by a very infectious gelaatstumor. But now it seems that the immune system of the animals so it evolves that the self the disease can fight. According to an international team of scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA and France, sees the future of the animals, there is suddenly a lot brighter.

The disease devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) was first observed in northeastern Tasmania in 1996. Since then, nearly hit 95 percent of the animals it infected. More than 90 percent of the population was lost. The disease spreads when the devils meet in the face biting. That bite is for the animals and a way to socialize and dominance to enforce. After the bite forms a hard tumor around the neck or the face. The tumor is so strong, that the jawbone can break down. Infected animals die after six to 24 months.

Read also Can group of Tasmanian devils kind of save it from ruin?

the purchase was in 2014, a second contagious cancer (DFT2) discovered in wild populations in the south of Tasmania. the

Natural selection tries to correct the problem yourself.

Dr. Rodrigo Hamede, University of Tasmania,

over The past five to six years to have some Tasmanian devils, however, have a higher tolerance for infections and even a better developed resistance, without human intervention. “Natural selection is trying to correct the problem yourself by to give preference to those with a tumor can survive, so today we have more hope than ever before,” says dr. Rodrigo Hamede of the University of Tasmania.

in Addition, his team also are already 23 cases of tumorregressie fixed, which indicates that the Tasmanian devils are also able to fight against DFTD, and to restore.

The DNA and the genetic characteristics of the animals themselves have adapted to the contagious cancer. It is remarkable that this very quickly is what happened: in just sixteen years, or eight generations of Tasmanian devils.

Will illness disappear completely?

“In the past managed we duivelpopulaties to eradication to prevent. Now, we are gradually moving over to an adaptive governance strategy, which is the selective adjustments improves, so the devils and DFTD finally coexist,” says dr Hamede.

The team of Hamede collects all ten years of information about the epidemic and worked a series of scenarios for the contamination of the devils in the wild over the next 100 years. According to 57 percent of those scenarios will DFTD gradually disappear, in 22 percent of the scenarios will the Tasmanian devils and the disease coexist.

Bite is pad

“Our current hypothesis is that biting not only leads to the spread of the tumors, but also the starting point may be,” explains Max Stammnitz, of the University of Cambridge. “If the scarring in the recurring wounds is interrupted by a mutation, can this cancer be. It heals not, and is the external tissue that is then transferable can be.”

“It is a constant arms race in the adaptation between animals and diseases. We develop resistance mechanisms that pathogens be put under pressure to allow the infection to improve, “says Stammnitz.

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