How a rare orange frog could hold secret to flu cure
The mucus of a rare frog that lurks in the South Indian jungle could provide the basis of a powerful new class of drugs to combat influenza, scientists have said.
The bright orange tennis ball-sized hydrophylax bahuvistara was found to contain "host defence peptides" that proved able to destroy numerous strains of human flu, whilst protecting normal cells.
Researchers caught the frog and collected its skin secretions. They then isolated several molecules from the secretions and tested them on human blood cells until they found one, called urumin after a flexible Indian sword, that killed flu viruses but did not hurt the cells.
Researchers are excited because the peptide showed it could bind to a protein that is identical across "dozens" of strains of the disease, increasing its potential as a drug.
People would be advised to treat the Keralan amphibian with caution, however, as three out of four of the peptides found in the mucus were found to be toxic to humans.