Study reveals immunised devils produced specific antibody to deadly facial tumour disease—22 February 2018

A new study funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) has found more than 95 per cent of Tasmanian devils immunised prior to being released into the wild have generated a robust antibody response to the deadly devil facial tumour disease (DFTD).

The study involved two release phases of immunised devils into Tasmania—19 at Narawntapu National Park and 33 devils at Stony Head.

Out of the 52 devils immunised and released, 95 per cent of them had made DFTD-specific antibodies.

Devils were monitored and re-trapped for testing at intervals after release to determine if immune responses could be detected.

The study is part of a larger research effort towards developing a vaccine approach in controlling DFTD.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research and School of Medicine, along with collaborators from the University of Tasmania’s School of Natural Sciences, Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, CSL Ltd and the universities of Sydney, Western Sydney and Melbourne.

Funding for the study was provided through ARC Linkage Projects grants and Wildcare Inc, with additional support from the University of Tasmania Foundation through funds raised by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal. The Stony Head release took place on land owned by the Australian Defence Force.

The research has been published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Media issued by the University of Tasmania.


Image: Tasmanian devil at Healesville sanctuary, Victoria, Australia.
Source: Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 22, 2018