Just imagine if an incurable cancer could spread between each one of us
The Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is an INCURABLE TRANSMISSIBLE CANCER that has spread rapidly between Tasmanian devils. The FIRST CASE was reported in 1996 and by now nearly 80% OF DEVILS ARE DEAD. The disease found a way to escape the devil's immune response and could potentially infect and kill the last of the healthy devils in the wild.
In the worst case scenario, the disease could survive the devil, and find a way to INFECT OTHER ANIMALS
If we don't do something about it, then this will eventually be the end of the Tasmanian devil
The Tasmanian devil plays a VITAL ROLE IN THE TASMANIAN ECOSYSTEM. It controls the numbers of preys and introduced animals and pests. At present, the decline in devils in the wild has led to an INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF FOXES AND FERAL CATS.
The extinction of the devil will CHANGE THE TASMANIAN LANDSCAPE FOREVER.
My investigations have led me to develop a powerful tool to stop the killer in its tracks
Here, at the LA TROBE INSTITUTE FOR MOLECULAR SICENCE (Melbourne, Australia) we have made INDUCED PLURIPOTENT STEM CELLS from the Tasmanian devil. These type of cells can be MADE FROM A SMALL PIECE OF SKIN and can be grown in the laboratory indefinitely and frozen permanently.
Most importantly, these cells have the ABILITY TO BECOME ANY OTHER CELL TYPE of the body.
Induced pluripotent stem cells with truly disruptive potential
Marsupials are under-exploited models of biomedical research
We seek to FULLY UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL OF STEM CELL TECHNOLOGY in the Tasmanian devil
MEET THE TEAM
How The Funds Will Be Used
We seek to collect skin samples from more male and female healthy Tasmanian devils based in Tasmania and the Healesville sanctuary (Melbourne). Tasmanian samples will be collected in the field over 7 days whereas Healesville samples will require 3 day trips. We will allocate 17.5% of the funds to pay for transport.
Since samples must be cold preserved to ensure their viability, part of the funds obtained from the crowdfunding campaign (15%) will be allocated to buy an Engel portable fridge (MT45FP Digital Series) for refrigeration of skin or blood biopsies taken in the field. Also, we seek to buy a laptop computer and software for recording, processing and communicating sample data. The computer can be used for in the field briefings and skype virtual meetings with collaborators.
This project requires the regular care and constant monitoring of cells. Therefore, large part of the budget (67.5%) will pay for laboratory supplies required for cell culture and cryopreservation.
We NEED YOU to reach our goal. The first two goals will be re-invested into the conservation of the Tasmanian devil using stem cells. Exceeding our goals will, however, empower us to move the project forward and consider more innovative approaches towards finding a cure for this transmissible cancer. By doing so, we also hope to uncover unknown mechanisms of cancer transmission that could be applicable to humans. Because understanding transmissible cancer is understanding cancer itself, the way it spreads between individuals, the way it spreads between cells.
Your support will help us to ADVANCE MARSUPIAL STEM CELL RESEARCH.
1) Collection of tissue samples from a representative sample of the healthy devil population is our top priority
2) Generation and cryopreservation of unique stem cell lines requires laboratory supplies and long term liquid nitrogen storage facilities.
4) The DFTD may spread to the reamaining wild or insurance populations before a cure is developed.