Tasmanian devil disease escapes detection by going incognito

03/12/2013 | LiveScience.com

A contagious Tasmanian devil disease is able to hide in the body by altering its genes, preventing the animal's immune system from detecting it. Devil facial tumor disease, one of two known contagious cancers, has killed off 70% of the wild Tasmanian devil population, and experts predict the species will be extinct within 20 years if the disease isn't stopped. "What we hope to do is to figure out a way to tip the balance so that the immune system does a better job of recognizing and can get rid of the tumor," said the researcher for the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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