A while back I told you about the plight of the Tasmanian Devil. A horrible cancer turning these adorable creatures (at least as babies-not so "adorable" when older as they live up to their names! LOL)..... Pictures from ZooBorns and the Taronga Zoo
....into these suffering and dying animals! It's horrific and it's wiping out the population.
Well luckily it appears things are starting to look up for them. Taken from the NWRA newsletter, The Wildlife Rehabilitator:
In spring of 2009 the Tasmanian devil was listed as an Australian endangered species, largely due to the fatal Devil Tumor Facial Disease (DTFD). It has wiped out 60% of the population since 1996. In 2007 it was discovered the cancer cells from multiple devils all share distinct genetic markers not found in the individual animals themselves. Using a large-scale genetic analysis in 2009, cooperating scientists from Australia and the US discovered a set of active genes in the tumors that are normally active only in the nerve cells known as Schwann cells. This indicates that a single Schwann cell from a single animal was the progenitor of all DTFD tumor cells, and that the disease is young as no cellular variation has occurred. DTFD is also unique in that only one other known cancer (in canines) has a natural parasitic-like infectious transmission of cells. The good news is now that the origin and active genes have been identified, development of treatment options for the devils, including a possible vaccine, can begin, hopefully before the population is devastated beyond recovery.
Read more about it here. At least for one species it seems hope may be on the horizon....