Drugs combating cancer in Tasmanian devils

Could a drug treatment for cancer in Tasmanian Devils be on the horizon?
27 April 2018
Presented by Katie Haylor


A Tasmanian devil


Tasmanian devils are black, carnivorous, scavenger marsupials that live - perhaps unsurprisingly, on the island of Tasmania. In recent years an intriguing type of cancer has been decimating their numbers, pushing the animals to the brink of extinction. Known as “Devil Facial Tumour Disease” - or DFTD -  the cancer is spread when an affected animal bites - and literally implants - some of the tumour from its own mouth into the face of another devil. The tumours avoid detection by the immune system by switching off key markers that would normally label the tissue as foreign. Now, by studying the genetics of the tumour tissue, and its response to drug treatments, scientists are beginning to spot drugs that might be capable of blocking the disease. Katie Haylor spoke to Max Stammnitz, who’s been studying DFTD at Cambridge University...


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