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New form of cancer never before seen in devils or any other animal? (Warning: *Graphic* Pic)

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posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 12:41 PM

Grisly examinations

THE horror of the mysterious disease killing Tasmanian devils still shocks scientist Clare Hawkins.

Dr Hawkins has been observing devils with Devil Facial Tumour Disease since March last year.

But the British-born biologist still finds it difficult to deal with the gruesome deformities caused by DFTD.

Wearing gloves and protective clothing, Dr Hawkins has to examine the diseased animals.

DFTD begins with fairly innocuous-looking lesions in a devil's mouth.

These grow into ugly bulbous cancers, which protrude from the neck and often invade the eye sockets, nasal passages and jaw.

Devils in the late stages of the disease can be blind and seriously disturbed, often dying because they cannot fend for themselves.

The time from lesions to death is three to six months.

"The disease is incredibly constant and pretty horrible," Dr Hawkins said.

"It eats away at the bone occasionally and sometimes you'll be opening the mouth and you realise the jaw is no longer solid. That is the worst, it's a dreadful, dreadful disease."

Dr Hawkins is part of a Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment team investigating DFTD.

The team thinks the disease is a new form of cancer never seen before in devils or any other animal.

DPIWE scientists at the Mt Pleasant laboratories in Launceston are working on a theory that DFTD is transmitted mechanically cell to cell when devils bite.

Field biologists think DFTD started in a "rotten apple" devil in the state's North-East.

First reported in 1996, DFTD has spread west to Cradle Mountain and south of Hobart.

DFTD is thought to have killed tens of thousands of devils in its march across the island.


This is of course disturbing enough in terms of its impact on the Tasmanian Devils, but the fact that this may be a new type of cancer not found previously in any other animal is far more disturbing to me...

[edit on 19-10-2005 by loam]

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 12:55 PM
Sounds like Mad Cow meets Bird Flu, hybridizes with MRSA.

Good find loam.

PS. Do you have a link?

[edit on 19-10-2005 by soficrow]

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 12:55 PM
Poor beasties!

I wondered if it was some sort of flesh eating bacteria. I'm glad they're paying attention to this... wild animals are indicators of the planet's general health, and this indicates either a very unfortunate mutation or a new source that may represent a danger to all of us.

...or a certain type of contamination (like, say, DDT although I know DDT doesn't cause this particular problem.)

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 01:33 PM
Just mulling - but most modern and newly emergent diseases result from infections that affect connective tissue stem cells - and result in what's called "aberrant wound healing." ...Would like to see the immuno-histochemical reports on this one, loam. So if you trip over any...

Also, besides MRSA (flesh-eating disease) - there are other similar, but less virulent, skin diseases emerging in humans. ATS has 2 threads on one of these diseases, sometimes called "Morgellons."

New Disease that cdc/NIH & Doctors are ignoring

Mystery Illness Baffles Doctors

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 01:58 PM
I would like to know what this 'new kind of cancer' is supposed to be... Sounds normal to me.

posted on Oct, 19 2005 @ 02:04 PM

Originally posted by Thain Esh Kelch

Sounds normal to me.

It may be normal in today's world - but the world hasn't always been diseased this way, and so unstable. Not even 6 years ago, it wasn't like this.

...You need to look at the microbiology here to understand why it's not normal, and the epidemiology too.

[edit on 19-10-2005 by soficrow]

posted on Oct, 21 2005 @ 12:55 PM
Sounds like something may be in the food it starts in their mouths, it must be started by something they eat. Since it may well work it's way to humans, they can't start researching too soon!

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 01:20 PM

Scientists Discover Origin of a Cancer in Tasmanian Devils

The Tasmanian devil, the spaniel-size marsupial found on the Australian island of Tasmania, has been hurtling toward extinction in recent years, the victim of a bizarre and mysterious facial cancer that spreads like a plague.

Now Australian scientists say they have discovered how the cancer originated. The finding, being reported Friday in the journal Science, sheds light on how cancer cells can sometimes liberate themselves from the hosts where they first emerged. On a more practical level, it also opens the door to devising vaccines that could save the Tasmanian devils.


The cancer, devil’s facial tumor disease, is transmitted when the animals bite one another’s faces during fights. It grows rapidly, choking off the animal’s mouth and spreading to other organs. The disease has wiped out 60 percent of all Tasmanian devils since it was first observed in 1996, and some ecologists predict that it could obliterate the entire wild population within 35 years.

When the tumor disease was discovered, many scientists assumed that it was caused by a rapidly spreading virus. Viruses cause 15 percent of all cancers in humans and are also widespread in animals.

But subsequent studies failed to turn up a virus....


To trace the origin of the tumors, the scientists looked at individual cancer cells, recording which genes were active. They found a set of genes normally active only in a type of nerve cell known as Schwann cells. They argue that a single Schwann cell in a single animal was the progenitor of all the devil facial tumor disease cells.

Pretty amazing when you consider the fact of 'communicable cancer'.

Scientists have found only one other case in which cancer cells naturally spread like parasites, a disease in dogs known as canine transmissible venereal tumor.


Infectious cancer poses a puzzle for biologists. “It is somehow a new organism,” Dr. Pappenfuss said. “I think of it as a parasite.”

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:10 PM
Great update loam. Thanks.

imo - We'll soon learn that all cancer has an infectious component. And check out those pesky prions... (posted an update today).

Ooops. Just noticed you wrote "communicable" cancer - important distinction, that.

[edit on 3-1-2010 by soficrow]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:12 PM
here's a related story from physorg

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:13 PM
An infectious cancer is also found in dogs and wolves. The canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT), also called Sticker sarcoma is normally transmitted via sexual contact. It generally affects the external genital region.

[edit on 3-1-2010 by Drunkenshrew]

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:14 PM
Woah, a 4 1/2 year thread update! way to do your homework, loam!

I saw this was in the news today also, and remember hearing about it a few years ago. I really hope that they find a cure and the lil devils can continue to exist.

posted on Jan, 3 2010 @ 03:29 PM
reply to post by hikix

Originally posted by hikix
Woah, a 4 1/2 year thread update! way to do your homework, loam!

Sick, huh?

I just like keeping things very tidy.

It helps with the big picture thing.

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