Saving a species bedeviled by cancer

Mark Scott Johnson [creativecommon license] via Wikimedia Commons

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial, is endangered by a fatal transmissible disease called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). DFTD is a naturally occurring infectious cancer first observed on the east coast of Tasmania in 1996. This cancer is rapidly spreading across the island, the devil’s only native habitat. DFTD is predicted to spread throughout Tasmania within 5 years. Because the disease has a 100% mortality rate, preservationists are concerned that the devil may face imminent extinction.

Lab Anim. (NY) 40, 232 (2011).
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