, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 346-351
Date: 31 Aug 2007

Towards a Case Definition for Devil Facial Tumour Disease: What Is It?


In the mid 1990s an emerging disease characterised by the development of proliferative lesions around the face of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) was observed. A multi-disciplinary approach was adopted to define the condition. Histopathological and transmission electron microscopic examination combined with immunohistochemistry help define Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) as a neoplastic condition of cells of neuroendocrine origin. Cytogenetic analysis of neoplastic tissue revealed it to be markedly different from normal devil tissue and having a consistent karyotype across all tumours examined. Combined with evidence for Major histocompatability (MHC) gene analysis there is significant evidence to confirm the tumour is a transmissible neoplasm.