This news makes me happy enough for the simple reason that Taz, the Tasmanian Devil Looney Tunes, was one of my childhood idol, and on more than one occasion I asked my parents have one of these animals as a pet, which for logical reasons that could not be for two reasons: the first is that they are far, far away in Oceania. And the second is, because unfortunately, it was an animal in danger of extinction due to a cancer suffering in the mouth .
That damn cancer affecting the demons of Tazmania had been discovered in the 90’s, when they were alive about 140,000 of its species. It was a contagious tumor that was enacted by the various injuries suffered these aniamles for fighting against infected individuals , this tumor appeared in her mouth and increased in size to cause deformations that prevented them eat to survive
It is estimated that around 80% of these animals had died from the disease.
However, on the horizon a slight hope for these adorable animals appears and comes from biologist Andrew Storfer , State University of Washington (USA) who along with an international team of scientists found that many of these individuals are showing genetic resistance to disease facial tumors .
The researchers examined samples of facial tissues of a group of 294 animals from three different places on the island of Tasmania and analyzed their genetic makeup.
The scientists were able to detect that there have been genetic changes that help the growing resistance of Tasmanian devils to the disease. The DNA of this unique mutated species before and after the emergence of this cancer. As a result the animals ended up producing an immune response to tumors, which makes us suppose that Tasmanian devils evolve faster towards a strong resistance to this cancer form.
All these data were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications , the truth is that look pretty strong.
“We have seen a rapid evolution as a result of the onset of the disease. Several statistical analyzes show that there have been dramatic increases in the frequency of certain genetic variants ”
Andrew Storfer, a biologist at Washington State University
Without a doubt, the most surprising scientists is the evolution of the animal despite its low genetic diversity that exists between the species, something previously considered unlikely.