Deadly cancer turns off genes, evading the immune system
A contagious cancer decimating Tasmanian devils makes itself invisible to the animals’ immune systems, which might otherwise fight it off, a new study shows.
Devil facial tumor disease shuts down production of proteins that normally decorate the surface of cells, telling the body whether a cell is its own or not. As a result, the devil’s immune system doesn’t recognize cancer cells from another devil as a potentially worrisome invader, Hannah Siddle, a marsupial geneticist at the University of Cambridge and an international group of collaborators report online March 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.