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If You Have the Flu, Slimy Frog Might Be Your Newest Ally


Yes, you did read that correctly. Despite how strange it may sound; slimy frogs might actually be useful in fending off the feared flu. In particular, the slime that covers the skin of frogs native of South India may be capable of fighting off certain strains of the flu… Slimy frogs just got a lot more appealing, didn’t they?

According to a new study, recently done using mice, it has been suggested that the slime on these South Indian frogs may very well be able to ward off certain strains of the flu virus. However, despite the promising results found when the slime was tested as a method to cure the mice of the flu, don’t get your hopes up just yet—the problem is that the impact of tests such as these on animals do not always work the same way when applied to humans.

What the researchers did concretely notice was that certain peptides in the mucus located on the skin of the frog has the ability to, in many cases, destroy the H1 variety of influenza viruses, most commonly referred to as the flu.

Prior to the experiment, it had already been known that the frogs’ skin had the power to secrete peptides which protect against bacteria. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, which make up proteins (which is why they are colloquially referred to as the building blocks of proteins). The new discoveries imply that these peptides could be used to help guide scientist towards the development of new antiviral treatments as well, according to the researchers involved in this ground-breaking study.

Certain medical treatments could become of a considerable importance when vaccines alone are unable to resolve the problem and protect against new strains of pandemic flu. New medicine could also be particularly useful when known flu strains develop resistance to medications that are currently widely used, explained senior author of the study, Joshy Jacob.

Jacob is an associate at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, where he lectures on microbiology and immunology. He made his comments in relation to the study and its findings in an Emory University news release.

One of the peptides produced in the frogs’ skin mucus is called urumin. In the study, it observably protected unvaccinated mice against a deadly dose of H1 strains of flu—among which was the 2009 pandemic strain. However, the powers of urumin proved to be limited in that it was not as effective when tested against other current flu strains, such as H3N2, according to the conclusions of the investigators in the study.

The study was published on April 18th in the scientific journal Immunity.

The researchers revealed that their next steps include furthering their studies of these peptides produced by the frogs’ skin. In particular, they are currently attempting to discover methods that will enable them to stabilize antiviral peptides, such as urumin, and to identify other frog-derived peptides that have the ability and potential to defend organisms, namely humans, against other viruses, such as the increasingly relevant mosquito-related viruses of Zika and dengue, which have been causing more concern than ever recently.

Featured Image via Wikimedia

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