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Demonstration of immune responses against devil facial tumour disease in wild Tasmanian devils


Pye, RJ and Hamede, R and Siddle, HV and Caldwell, A and Knowles, GW and Swift, K and Kreiss, A and Jones, ME and Lyons, AB and Woods, GM, Demonstration of immune responses against devil facial tumour disease in wild Tasmanian devils, Biology Letters, 12, (10) Article 20160553. ISSN 1744-9561 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2016.0553


Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a recently emerged fatal transmissible cancer decimating the wild population of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). Biting transmits the cancer cells and the tumour develops in the new host as an allograft. The literature reports that immune escape mechanisms employed by DFTD inevitably result in host death. Here we present the first evidence that DFTD regression can occur and that wild devils can mount an immune response against the disease. Of the 52 devils tested, six had serum antibodies against DFTD cells and, in one case, prominent T lymphocyte infiltration in its tumour. Notably, four of the six devils with serum antibody had histories of DFTD regression. The novel demonstration of an immune response against DFTD in wild Tasmanian devils suggests that a proportion of wild devils can produce a protective immune response against naturally acquired DFTD. This has implications for tumour-host coevolution and vaccine development.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:immune response, infectious disease, tasmanian devil, cancer
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Host-parasite interactions
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Pye, RJ (Ms Ruth Pye)
UTAS Author:Hamede, R (Dr Rodrigo Hamede Ross)
UTAS Author:Kreiss, A (Dr Alexandre Kreiss)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Professor Menna Jones)
UTAS Author:Lyons, AB (Associate Professor Bruce Lyons)
UTAS Author:Woods, GM (Professor Gregory Woods)
ID Code:113705
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:60
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-01-16
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:183 View Download Statistics

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