Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease: Nervous culprit found

Date:
January 3, 2010
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Cells that protect nerves are the likely origin of the devil facial tumor disease that has been devastating Australia's Tasmanian devil population, an international team of scientists has discovered.

Dr. Tony Papenfuss from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, has identified Schwann cells as the likely origin of the devil facial tumor disease that has been devastating Australia's Tasmanian devil population.
Credit: Cameron Wells, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Cells that protect nerves are the likely origin of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) that has been devastating Australia's Tasmanian devil population, an international team of scientists has discovered.

Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a transmissible cancer that affects only Tasmanian devils and was first reported in 1996. It is spread by biting and quickly kills the animals. The disease is characterised by large tumours, mostly on the face and mouth, which often spread to internal organs.

The research collaboration, led by Australian scientists, has found that DFTD originates from cells called Schwann cells, which protect peripheral nerve fibres.

The results have been published in the journal Science.

Through the discovery, the team has now identified a genetic marker that could be used to accurately diagnose the perplexing cancer, which has seen the devil listed as endangered and facing extinction.

Lead author Dr Elizabeth Murchison from the Australian National University said the Schwann cell discovery was significant as there are currently no specific diagnostic tests, treatments or vaccines available for the disease.

"We took biopsies from devil tumours and extracted genetic data from them," Dr Murchison said.

Dr Tony Papenfuss from Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute then led the team that determined which genes were switched on in the tumours and identified their genetic signature.

"When we compared the signature of the tumours to other normal tissues we found the tumours were most like Schwann cells," Dr Papenfuss said.

Associate Professor Greg Woods from the University of Tasmania's Menzies Research Institute said the Schwann cell find was an important step in the process to further understand the disease.

"Devils develop tumours of all different types and the genetic markers we have identified are useful for telling apart the tumours that occur in DFTD from other kinds of tumours," Associate Professor Woods said.

The Schwann cell research was conducted as part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program's efforts to further explore DFTD. It was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the University of Tasmania's Dr Eric Guiler Tasmanian Devil Research Grant.

For more information or to make a donation to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal, visit, www.tassiedevil.com.au.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease: Nervous culprit found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231164736.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2010, January 3). Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease: Nervous culprit found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231164736.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease: Nervous culprit found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231164736.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins