Along with the efforts to provide insurance populations of Devils and isolate the ones with Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD), many experiments are being undertaken to understand the tumor's growth and develop an antibiotic solution. Studies in research labs, particularly at the University of Tasmania, to investigate and combat the disease at a cellular level, are underway and are finding new information nearly every day. I took a visit to the research lab at University of Tasmania, where I shadowed veternarian Alex and molecular biologist Gaby.
Alex inspecting different Devil skin graft cells:
Some strides have recently been made in locating the diseased cells and experiments have been conducted in eradicating the tumor by providing antibodies to attack the cancerous cells, but so far all attempts have eventually failed to heal an already diseased devil.
This machine costs many thousands of dollars. What it does, I could not tell you exactly. Gaby assured me that it is useful in analyzing tissue samples.
Researchers remain hard at work, though, in a neck-and-neck sort of race with the tumor's ever-evolving and adapting makeup. While no solutions have yet been 100% fool-proof, even if they have had partial success, scientists such as Gaby and Alex here are dedicating all their efforts to beating the tumor in that race. Moreover, as a stable transmissible cancer, DFTD provides unique insights into cancer development, progression, and immune evasion and can help increase knowledge and understanding of other types of cancers, including human cancer.