Friday, May 20, 2016

DFTD2: The Sequel

Tasmanian devil disease recently got curiouser when a graduate student identified a second cell line:
In March 2014, Murchison’s colleague Ruth Pye, a graduate student at the University of Tasmania, noticed something weird about a facial tumor taken from a devil captured just north of Hobart. Physically, it looked like DFTD; genetically, it was clearly something different. For example, DFTD cells have lost their X and Y sex chromosomes, both of which were present in the new tumor. Pye reasoned that this particular devil had spontaneously developed its own type of facial tumor that looked like DFTD, but wasn’t. It was a one-off.
Except, a few months later, she found the same genetically distinct tumor in a second devil from the same area. In both cases, the tumors bore absolutely no genetic resemblance to either DFTD or their respective hosts. These devils had developed a second type of contagious cancer.
They've found a total of eight infected devils and published their results this January.