Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938


By Stephen Luntz

Brief bites of science news

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Devil Tumour Not Weakening

The Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is not among the infectious diseases that weaken or slow with time, vets at the University of Sydney have revealed in PLoS ONE.

Diseases that are too infectious and lethal can wipe out their hosts, so many evolve as they are transmitted. With DFTD having wiped out 85% of the devil population, it’s own survival is endangered if it does not stop killing devils.

“The scientific community trying to address the disease hoped it was slowing down or would show signs of slowing down, but this research proves it is not doing that and is more likely to get stronger,” said lead author Dr Kathy Belov. “We have discovered that DFTD is able to survive indefinitely because the ‘caps’ at the ends of their chromosomes are being replenished, essentially preventing ageing in this cell line.”

Co-author Dr Beata Ujvari described DFTD as “one of the oldest naturally living and continuously transferred cell lines in nature”. DFTD is the first cell line in which the telomerase protecting cells has been found to increase with time.

Twenty-Two Degree Perfection

For Brisbanites, 22°C is the perfect temperature, or at least the best for their health.

Prof Shilu Tong of QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation compared 784,000 ambulance attendances from 2000–07...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.