Evidence for induction of humoral and cytotoxic immune responses against devil facial tumor disease cells in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) immunized with killed cell preparations
OPEN Vaccine | 25 Feb 2015
A Kreiss, GK Brown, C Tovar, AB Lyons and GM Woods
Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) risk extinction from a contagious cancer, devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) in which the infectious agent is the tumor cell itself. Because devils are unable to produce an immune response against the tumor cells no devil has survived ‘infection’. To promote an immune response we immunized healthy devils with killed DFTD tumor cells in the presence of adjuvants. Immune responses, including cytotoxicity and antibody production, were detected in five of the six devils. The incorporation of adjuvants that act via toll like receptors may provide additional signals to break ‘immunological ignorance’. One of these devils was protected against a challenge with viable DFTD cells. This was a short-term protection as re-challenge one year later resulted in tumor growth. These results suggest that Tasmanian devils can generate immune responses against DFTD cells. With further optimization of immune stimulation it should be possible to protect Tasmanian devils against DFTD with an injectable vaccine.
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