Value of amphibian skin in modern medicine

Chinese researchers recently discovered that nine different kinds of odorous frogs from the genus Odorrhana produce peptides from their skin secretions that have been shown to inhibit bacteria and fungal strains. Peptides are small sequences of amino acids that are similar in function to proteins, but are distinguished by size (they are much smaller than your average protein). It is thought that the frogs produce these smelly secretions in order to prevent infection since they live in moist areas that promote bacterial growth. The implications that this has for human medicine and disease ecology are enormous. New antibiotics could be created from these secretions that could potentially combat currently antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. To view the full research article, click here. I would personally be interested in knowing what implications this discovery has on the spread of the chytrid fungus and if these peptides can inhibit Bd.

In addition, researchers at Queens University in Belfast have found that there are some skin secretions from the Waxy Monkey Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa sauvagii) that can be applied toward fighting cancer by restricting the growth of blood vessels associated with the growing tumor.  Click here to view the article in BBC News.

Science is discovering many new compounds from amphibian skin that can be applied toward research into human medicine. One of our greatest resources for modern medicine and science comes from the natural world around us. These are only a few of the more recent findings of uses for frog skin secretions, and many more are likely to come in the years following. This presents another reason why it is so important to conserve amphibians now so that we may study them more thoroughly in the future. Who knows what compounds we might have found on the skin of the extinct Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes), let alone what untapped potential is stored in the hundreds of endangered frog species today.

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