Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Frog skin may provide 'kiss of death' for antibiotic-resistant germs

Date:
August 27, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Kissing a frog won't turn it into a prince -- except in fairy-tales -- but frogs may be hopping toward a real-world transformation into princely allies in humanity's battle with antibiotic-resistant infections that threaten millions of people. Scientists reported that frog skin contains substances that could be the basis for a new genre of antibiotics.

Kissing a frog won't turn it into a prince -- except in fairy tales -- but frogs may be hopping toward a real-world transformation into princely allies in humanity's battle with antibiotic-resistant infections that threaten millions of people worldwide. Scientists have reported that frog skin contains natural substances that could be the basis for a powerful new genre of antibiotics.

In a report at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society on August 26, the team of stalwart frog-fanciers described enlisting colleagues worldwide to ship secretions from hundreds of promising frog skins to their laboratory in the United Arab Emirates. Using that amphibious treasure trove, they identified more than 100 antibiotic substances in the skins of different frog species from around the world. One even fights "Iraqibacter," the bacterium responsible for drug-resistant infections in wounded soldiers returning from Iraq.

Michael Conlon, Ph.D., who reported on the research, noted that the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, which have the ability to shrug off conventional antibiotics, is a growing problem worldwide. As a result, patients need new types of antibiotics to replace drugs that no longer work.

"Frog skin is an excellent potential source of such antibiotic agents," said Conlon, a biochemist at the United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi Emirate. "They've been around 300 million years, so they've had plenty of time to learn how to defend themselves against disease-causing microbes in the environment. Their own environment includes polluted waterways where strong defenses against pathogens are a must."

Scientists have known for years that the skin of frogs is a rich source of chemicals capable of killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Researchers have attempted to isolate those germ-fighting chemicals and make them suitable for development into new antibiotics. Success, however, has been elusive because froggy antibiotics tend to be toxic to human cells and certain chemicals in the bloodstream easily destroy them.

Conlon and colleagues described an approach to overcome these problems. They discovered a way to tweak the molecular structure of frog skin antibiotic substances, making them less toxic to human cells but more powerful germ killers. Similarly, the scientists also discovered other tweaks that enabled the frog skin secretions to shrug off attack by destructive enzymes in the blood. The result was antibiotics that last longer in the bloodstream and are more likely to be effective as infection fighters, Conlon noted.

The antibiotic substances work in an unusual way that makes it very difficult for disease-causing microbes to develop resistance, Conlon said.

The scientists are currently screening skin secretions from more than 6,000 species of frogs for antibiotic activity. So far, they have purified and determined the chemical structure of barely 200, leaving a potential bonanza of antibiotic substances awaiting discovery.

"Many people are working with me, giving me samples of frog skin secretions," said Conlon, who has a dozen research collaborators in Japan, France, the United States, and other countries. "We only actually use the frogs to get the chemical structure of the antibiotic, and then we make it in the lab. We take great care not to harm these delicate creatures, and scientists return them to the wild after swabbing their skin for the precious secretions."

One substance isolated from the skin secretions of the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog -- a species once common in California and Oregon but now facing extinction -- shows promise for killing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. MRSA is a "superbug," infamous for causing deadly outbreaks of infection among hospitalized patients. Now it is occurring in settings outside hospitals, including schools, nursing homes, and day care centers.

The skin of the mink frog, likewise, contains secretions that show promise for fighting "Iraqibacter," caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumanni.

Some of the substances could make their way into clinical trials within the next five years, Conlon predicted. He envisions that pharmaceutical companies could develop the chemicals as creams or ointments for treating skin infections or as injectable drugs for treating drug-resistant infections throughout the body. The United Arab Emirates University provided funding for the study.

"The research also is important because it underscores the importance of preserving biodiversity," Conlon pointed out. "Some frog species -- including those that may contain potentially valuable medicinal substances -- are in jeopardy worldwide due to loss of habitat, water pollution, and other problems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Frog skin may provide 'kiss of death' for antibiotic-resistant germs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113256.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, August 27). Frog skin may provide 'kiss of death' for antibiotic-resistant germs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113256.htm
American Chemical Society. "Frog skin may provide 'kiss of death' for antibiotic-resistant germs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113256.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins