In a remote region of the Australian island of Tasmania researchers have fourteen healthy Tasmanian devils have been found. The DNA of the animals can potentially contribute to the salvation of the species, that by an aggressive cancer with extinction is threatened.
The Tasmanian devil, or buidelduivel, is a carnivorous marsupial that only in Tasmania occurs. That is an island south of Australia. The species is, however, bad for by an aggressive cancer, Devil Facial Tumour Disease. Animals that are sick, get tumors in the face where they are no longer able to eat. They die eventually due to starvation. Over the past 20 years the population by the cancer by 80 percent thinned out.
The discovery of a group of animals that are not sick, can help the species to survive. The cancer can quickly spread because Tasmanian devils are genetically very similar to each other. Also in their immune system, there is little variation, allowing the cancer cells are not attacked as they are passed by biting or pairs.
‘The discovery of Tasmanian devils with a new genetic variant gives us the chance to the population to the rescue, sounds. The researchers will now assess the extent to which the genetic heritage of healthy animals differs from that of the sick.
The healthy Tasmanian devils were discovered during an expedition of eight days on the remote southwest coast of Tasmania. Never before was there to the animals searched. The captured buidelduivels were from 18 months to 5 years old. That is also a sign that they are not sick, because in the regions where the cancer is raging there are no animals of that age, more to be found.