Skin slime of Indian frog can kill flu virus

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  • A team of researchers jolted some of the recently discovered Indian frog Hydrophylax bahuvistara with mild electricity, collected their skin secretions, and then returned them to their natural habitat in India.
  • Then, from the secretions, the team identified and isolated 32 peptides (building blocks of proteins).
  • One of these peptides can attach itself to the surface of some strains of influenza viruses (such as the H1 strains of flu) and destroy them, the researchers observed.

Scientists have discovered anti-flu molecules in an Indian frog’s skin secretions.The slimy mucus of the brightly colored wide-spread Fungoid Frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) contains molecules that normally protect the frogs against pathogens. These same molecules can also kill some strains of influenza viruses affecting humans, scientists report in a new study published in the journal Immunity.

A team of researchers jolted these recently discovered frogs with mild electricity, collected their skin secretions, and then returned them to their natural habitat in India. Then, from the secretions, the team identified and isolated 32 peptides (building blocks of proteins).

One of these peptides can attach itself to the surface of some strains of influenza viruses (such as the H1 strains of flu) and destroy them, the researchers observed. In fact, when the peptide was introduced into unvaccinated mice, delivered through their nose, it managed to protect the animals against a lethal dose of some flu viruses.

“The frogs secrete this peptide almost certainly to combat some pathogen in their niche,” lead author of the study Joshy Jacob told Gizmodo. “The flu virus most likely shares a common motif with whatever the peptide is targeted to.”

The researchers have named the peptide urumin, after “urumi”, a sword with a whip-like blade that was once used in southern India.

Urumin can be chemically synthesized in the lab, researchers say. But the team is still figuring out the mechanism by which urumin kills flu viruses, and it will likely take a while before the peptide is developed into a powerful anti-viral drug that remains stable in the human body.

Skin slime of Indian frog can kill flu virus
Mucus produced by the skin of Indian frog Hydrophylax bahuvistara contains a flu virus-fighting peptide.
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