At the Animal Health Laboratories (AHL), Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment scientists have collected and analysed blood, tissue and tumour samples from hundreds of Tasmanian devils, allowing a growing understanding of the nature and origin of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). Through this work, and the work of collaborators, we now know the tumour is of nerve cell origin and is spread between devils by direct cell transfer. The initial published work in the November 2006 editions of Veterinary Pathology
established these facts.
Published work in Science (2010) confirms the possible nerve cell origins of the tumour using genetic techniques. Other genetic work undertaken by the AHL has shown a continuing genetic evolution of the tumour and unravelling the significance of this finding is an ongoing part of our work.
AHL's diagnostic work continues on a daily basis supporting many aspects of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (E.g. disease suppression, captive animal health monitoring and treatment trials) and has facilitated the establishment of a data base of information and tissue archive of DFTD cases for many ongoing projects and future work. They are also developing much better tools for tumour diagnosis and assessment of health in Tasmanian devils.
See Research for the lastest developments and news.