Scientists find another contagious cancer type in Tasmanian devils

In a new study, researchers have claimed that contagious cancer that spreads by biting might not be as rare as previously thought. According to researchers,they have discovered a new type of transmissible cancer in Tasmania. The transmissible cancer was found in the eight devils (Tasmanian devils) — small dog sized ferocious carnivore.

Transmissible cancer can be transferred from one person to other by just transfer of living cancer cell, then the affected cell grows in other host body and kills ultimately. It causes facial tumors in Tasmanian devils. Due to transmissible cancer the species of Tasmanian devils is on the verge of getting extinct. Tasmanian devils are iconic and ferocious marsupial carnivores and usually bite each other during mating and feeding interactions.

Scientists tried to breed devils who were known to be immune to the disease and started working on vaccine to treat the facial tumors in Tasmanian devils. Scientists say that they knew about two other cancers that can be transmitted from animal to other — in dogs and soft shell.

“Until now, we’ve always thought that transmissible cancers arise extremely rarely in nature, but this new discovery makes us question this belief,” said Dr. Elizabeth Murchison, a researcher in the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, which confirmed the second form of cancer, in a press release. “Now that we have discovered that this has happened a second time, it makes us wonder if Tasmanian devils might be particularly vulnerable to developing this type of disease, or that transmissible cancers may not be as rare in nature as we previously thought.”

It is was 1996, when scientists for the first time noted tumors around face and mouth in Tasmanian devils, also it was found that the tumor was contagious between devils that lead to death within month of the appearance of first symptoms and death was sure once the cancer cell was transmitted.

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