New DNA Sequencing Research Could Save Tasmanian Devil from Extinction

A Tasmanian Devil being screened for cancer.

DNA sequencing got a lot of press back in the year 2000, when President Clinton announced the completion of the “Human Genome Project”. This meant that we had the first complete map of the human genome. Today, researchers are working hard to make DNA sequencing the next major evolution in human development. However, this research isn’t restricted just to humans.

You may not have known that Tasmanian Devils are becoming extinct — it’s not exactly what most people want to read about CNN. However, these cute, ferocious little mammals are being eradicated by a mysterious cancer that has a 90-100% lethality rate.

In an attempt to save the species, researchers are analyzing the genetic diversity of the species, as well as important clues that could lead to a cure for the cancer (which has been called “Devil Facial Tumor Disease”). Using genome sequencing, they’ve determined that the cause of the cancer could be the low genetic diversity within the species. Hopefully further research will allow them to save Tasmanian Devils from complete extinction.

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