Recently I read a story about the Tasmanian Devils and their fight against cancer. Although many people dealing with cancer and the side effects feel like Tasmanian Devils, these are the real animals, the marsupial carnivores of Tasmania, not the cartoon characters we all remember.
The real Devils have been plagued with a form of cancer that is contagious, deforming and eventually fatal.
A contagious cancer is something a bit different in the world of cancer. These Devils, being devilish in their nature, bite each other’s faces during ‘normal’ or ‘violent’ acts. The bites get infected and lead to cancerous tumors that eventually restrict the Devils from eating. A Devil that has the infection spreads it to other Devils when they bite each other.
Here is the good news for the Devils: Australian wildlife researchers have found a colony of Tasmanian Devils that appear to have a genetic immunity to the cancer. It looks like these healthy Devils body chemistry is able to mount an immune response against the cancer cells. Their bodies recognize the cancer cells as foreign and fight it off successfully.
Hooray for the Tasmania Devil because the cancer has affected 70% of the Devils already living in Tasmania. Hooray for the world of cancer because these genetically immune Devils offer hope. The idea that a body, Devil or not, can develop immunity opens up hope for other cancers too.
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