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Top Story

Tasmanian devils evolve to resist deadly cancer

Tasmanian devils are evolving in response to a highly lethal and contagious form of cancer. A National Science Foundation-funded researcher and an international team of scientists discovered that two regions in the genomes of Australia’s iconic marsupials are changing in response to the rapid spread of devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), a nearly 100 percent fatal and transmissible cancer first detected in 1996. The Washington University study suggests some Tasmanian devil populations are evolving genetic resistance to DFTD that could help the species avoid extinction. Additionally, the genomic data will support future medical research exploring how animals evolve rapidly in response to cancer and other pathogens.

Visit Website | Image credit: Menna Jones, University of Tasmania