Frog slime kills flu virus

A component of the skin mucus secreted by South Indian frogs can kill the H1 variety of influenza viruses, researchers from Emory Vaccine Center and the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in India have discovered.

Frogs' skins were known to secrete peptides that defend them against bacteria. The finding, published in Immunity, suggests that the peptides represent a resource for antiviral drug discovery as well.

Anti-flu peptides could become handy when vaccines are unavailable, in the case of a new pandemic strain, or when circulating strains become resistant to current drugs, says senior author Joshy Jacob, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory Vaccine Center and Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Jacob is also a faculty member in the IMP program.

The first author of the paper is IMP graduate student David Holthausen, and the research grew out of collaboration with M.R. Pillai, PhD and Sanil George, PhD from the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology.

Jacob and his colleagues named one of the antiviral peptides they identified urumin, after a whip-like sword called "urumi" used in southern India centuries ago. Urumin was found in skin secretions from the Indian frog Hydrophylax bahuvistara, which were collected after mild electrical stimulation.

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