Transmissible cancers are incredibly rare in nature, yet have arisen in Tasmanian devils on at least two separate occasions. New research from the University of Cambridge identifies key anti-cancer drugs which could be trialled as a treatment for these diseases, which are threatening Tasmanian devils with extinction.
Transmissible cancers – cancers which can spread between individuals by the transfer of living cancer cells – are believed to arise extremely rarely in nature. One of the few known transmissible cancers causes facial tumours in Tasmanian devils, and is threatening this species with extinction. Today, scientists report the discovery of a second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils.
The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, T is for Tasmanian Devil and the researchers studying the transmissable cancer that threatens these marsupials with extinction.