Skin mucus secreted by a colourful, tennis-ball-sized frog species found in Kerala can be used to develop an anti-viral drug that can treat various strains of flu, according to a new study.
An international team of scientists from the United States and India has discovered that a component of the skin mucus secreted by a South Indian fungoid frog can destroy many strains of human influenza viruses and protect mice against influenza infection. The discovery is reported in the journal Immunity.
The newly-identified antiviral peptide was found in skin secretions from the Wide-spread fungoid frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara).
Dr. Jacob and his colleagues from Emory University and the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in Kerala, India, named this peptide ‘urumin,’ after the urumi, a sword with a flexible blade that snaps and bends like a whip, which comes from the same Indian province, Kerala, as the frog.
The scientists screened 32 frog defense peptides against an influenza strain and found that 4 of them had flu-busting abilities. The researchers are still working out the details of the flu-destroying mechanism.
“Urumin is far from becoming an anti-flu drug, but this is the first evidence of its flu-killing ability,” they said.