Skin mucus secreted by a frog species (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) native to Kerala can be used to develop an anti-viral drug that can treat various strains of flu.
Frog mucus is loaded with molecules that kill bacteria and viruses. An international team of researchers, including those from Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Kerala, screened about 32 frog defence peptides against an influenza strain and found that four of them had flu-busting abilities. When researchers delivered small electric shocks, they collected the secretion that contained a peptide, or chain of amino acids, that appears to fight off the H1 strain of flu virus.
One of these host defence peptides can destroy many strains of human flu and provide protection against flu infection.
The researchers named the newly identified peptide "urumin" after the urumi, a sword with a flexible blade that snaps and bends like a whip. Electron microscope images of the virus after exposure to urumin show complete dismantling of the virus.
It seems to work by binding to a protein that is identical across many influenza strains. More research is needed to determine if urumin could become a preventive treatment against the flu in humans, and to see if other frog-derived peptides could protect against viruses like dengue and Zika.