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Could humans save the Tasmanian devil?

Tasmanian devils may spread the cancers when they bite each other’s faces during fights, but now scientists think a human cancer drug could treat them.

Picture of a Tasmanian Devil. They are small, with short black fur, bushy tails and ears that stick up.
Image credit: Bernard Spragg, NZ

The Tasmanian devil is more than just a well-loved children’s cartoon. It’s also the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial.

But it’s become endangered, mostly because of deadly facial cancers that have spread through the population. Thankfully, scientists have found that a drug, developed to treat human cancers, may also work on Tasmanian devils.

The development of a new drug is a long process that often ends in failure. If we can use existing drugs to treat other illnesses – or even other species – we can save time, money and, hopefully, the Tasmanian devil.

DISCUSSION TOPICS

Is it right that humans should interfere with evolution in this way, or should we let nature take it’s course?