Frogs Could Help Defeat Bacterial Diseases

 September 1st, 2010 |    SaladeroLodge

Frogs Could Help Defeat Bacterial Diseases

Researchers from United Arab Emirates recently announced results of their frog skin study, which identified over 100 antibiotic substances taken from frog skin secretions. Scientists around the world collected skin secretions from various species and sent them in for the study. The researchers believe frog skins could potentially be used to produce new antibiotics.

One of the biochemists participating in the research explained, “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.”

The scientists so far have identified about 200 skin secretions which could be potential candidates for new antibiotics. They have secretions from 6,000 species total, which means there are still a very large number of chemicals they could find. Scientists say they take special care not to harm the frogs when their skin secretions are sampled.

A chemical found on the skins of the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog has been determined to have potential to kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, which has caused deadly infections. In 2005, there were about 18,000 deaths related to MRSA according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The only problem so far with using the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog as a potential source of a new antibiotic, is that its population is nearly threatened and not always easy to locate. After a California river dam altered a major breeding ground for the species, its population plummeted. Researchers also suspect that pesticides are harming their population.

Frogs around the world are facing a deadly fungal epidemic which could wipe out many species. Recently it was reported thirty species in Panama were eliminated by the fungus.

Research such as this underscores how important it is to preserve biodiversity.