When a frog jumps into a bucket of fresh milk, the milk won't go sour according to a Russian old wives' tale.
Silly, huh? Maybe not: new research just published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Proteome Research indicates those old Russian wives were on to something.
A team led by organic chemist A.T. Lebedev of Moscow State University revisited previous research on the common Russian Brown Frog that identified 21 different antibiotic peptides in the frogs' skin secretions. Applying the latest, more sensitive laboratory techniques, a further 76 compounds were discovered.
Obviously the frogs aren't producing antibiotics to help humans keep cow's milk fresh. Amphibians have thin, moist, porous skin that would normally be very susceptible to bacterial infection. The frogs have evolved the ability to fight off invasive bacteria by producing and secreting compounds with natural antibiotic properties.
It's not hard to imagine frogs jumping into open buckets of milk from time to time in the past, and when the milk didn't spoil human farmers put two and two together. The Moscow State University team studying the frogs have basically done the same thing. “These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains,” wrote the researchers, “while their action may also explain the traditional experience of rural populations.”
Since new antibiotic compounds are sorely needed to help battle a worrying rise in dangerous “superbugs” – strains of bacteria that have acquired resistance to current antibiotics – let's hope medical researchers will hop to it and find us some! (via UPI, Pourquois t'es La?, Little Something Here There, and Jung SuWon Young Warriors Club)