Devil Facial Tumour Disease Research

Our research focuses on how transmissible cancers in Tasmanian devils evade the devil's immune system. By understanding how the tumours and immune system interacts, we aim to develop a better vaccine to protect Tasmanian devils from the devil facial tumour diseases.

Parent Theme

Research Projects

Related Funding Bodies



  • Professor Greg Woods (Principal Research Fellow)
  • Dr Andrew Flies (Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Research Fellow)

Team Members

  • Associate Professor Bruce Lyons 
  • Dr Amanda Patchett
  • Dr Ruth Pye
  • Jocelyn Darby
  • Chrissie Ong (PhD candidate)
  • Alana De Luca (PhD candidate)
  • Ahab Kayigwe (PhD candidate)

Related Publications

  • Ong CEB, Lyons AB, Woods GM, Flies AS, 'Inducible IFN-γ expression for MHC-I upregulation in devil facial tumour cells', Frontiers in Immunology, 9 Article 3117. ISSN 1664-3224 (2019) [Refereed Article] DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03117

  • Patchett AL, Coorens THH, Darby J, Wilson R, McKay MJ, et al., 'Two of a kind: transmissible Schwann cell cancers in the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)', Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences pp. 1-12. ISSN 1420-682X (2019) [Refereed Article] DOI: 10.1007/s00018-019-03259-2

  • Pye R, Patchett A, McLennan E, Thomson R, Carver S, et al., 'Immunization strategies producing a humoral IgG immune response against devil facial tumour disease in the majority of Tasmanian devils destined for wild release', Frontiers in Immunology, 9 Article 259. ISSN 1664-3224 (2018) [Refereed 

  • Tovar C, Pye RJ, Kreiss A, Cheng Y, Brown GK, et al., 'Regression of devil facial tumour disease following immunotherapy in immunised Tasmanian devils', Scientific Reports, 7 Article 43827. ISSN 2045-2322 (2017) [Refereed Article]DOI: 10.1038/srep43827

  • Flies AS, Blackburn NB, Lyons AB, Hayball JD, Woods GM, 'Comparative analysis of immune checkpoint molecules and their potential role in the transmissible Tasmanian Devil facial tumour disease', Frontiers in Immunology, 8 Article 513. ISSN 1664-3224 (2017) [Refereed Article] DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00513

  • Brown GK, Tovar C, Cooray AA, Kreiss A, Darby J, et al., 'Mitogen activated Tasmanian devil blood mononuclear cells kill devil facial tumour disease cells', Immunology and Cell Biology, 94, (7) pp. 673-679. ISSN 0818-9641 (2016) [Refereed Article] DOI: 10.1038/icb.2016.38

  • Flies AS, Lyons AB, Corcoran LM, Papenfuss AT, Murphy JM, et al., 'PD-L1 is not constitutively expressed on Tasmanian devil facial tumour cells but is strongly upregulated in response to IFN-γ and can be expressed in the tumour microenvironment', Frontiers in Immunology, 7 Article 581. ISSN 1664-3224 (2016) [Refereed Article]  DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00581

  • Pye RJ, Hamede R, Siddle HV, Caldwell A, Knowles GW, et al., 'Demonstration of immune responses against devil facial tumour disease in wild Tasmanian devils', Biology Letters, 12, (10) Article 20160553. ISSN 1744-9561 (2016) [Refereed Article] 

  • Kreiss A, Brown GK, Tovar C, Lyons AB, Woods GM, 'Evidence for induction of humoral and cytotoxic immune responses against devil facial tumour disease cells in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) immunized with killed cell preparations', Vaccine, 33, (26) pp. 3016-3025. ISSN 0264-410X (2015) [Refereed Article] DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.01.039