If you didn’t love Kermit the Frog before, you will now.
A team of international researchers have found that mucus secreted by South Indian frogs can kill the H1 variety of influenza viruses.
Emory Vaccine Center and Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in India studied the skin secretions from the Hydrophylax bahuvistara and found antiviral peptides. And one “host defense peptide,” now called urumin, can actually destroy H1 influenza.
And, it could be a major flu killer.
Urumin protected unvaccinated mice against a lethal dose of some flu viruses, including the 2009 pandemic strain. (However, it wasn’t effect against other influenza strains such as H3N2.)
The study, recently published in the journal Immunity, suggests that the peptides could lead to an antiviral drug discovery. That could be hugely helpful when vaccines are unavailable. It could also be valuable in the event of a new strain, or if existing strains becomes drug-resistent.
While some antiviral peptides are toxic, this one only attacked the flu virus.
“I was almost knocked off my chair,” senior author and Emory professor Joshy Jacob said in a statement. “In the beginning, I thought that when you do drug discovery, you have to go through thousands of drug candidates, even a million, before you get 1 or 2 hits. And here we did 32 peptides, and we had 4 hits.”
Prof. Jacob’s lab is now trying to find ways to develop antimicrobial peptides into effective drugs, and use frog-derived peptides to fight other viruses such as dengue and Zika.