Giant fire-bellied toad's brain brims with powerful germ-fighters

April 13, 2011

Frog and toad skins already are renowned as cornucopias of hundreds of germ-fighting substances. Now a new report in ACS's Journal of Proteome Research reveals that the toad brains also may contain an abundance of antibacterial and antiviral substances that could inspire a new generation of medicines.

Ren Lai and colleagues point out that scientists know little about the germ-fighting proteins in amphibian brains, despite many studies showing that amphibians synthesize and secrete a remarkably diverse array of antimicrobial substances in their skin. So they decided to begin filling that knowledge gap by analyzing brains from the Giant Fire-Bellied Toad and the Small-webbed Bell Toad.

They discovered 79 different antimicrobial peptides, the components of proteins, including 59 that were totally new to science. The diversity of the peptides "is, to our knowledge, the most extreme yet described for any animal brains," they noted. Some of the peptides showed strong antimicrobial activity, crippling or killing strains of staph bacteria, E. coli, and the that causes yeast infections in humans. These promising findings suggest that the toad brains might be a valuable source for developing new antibacterial and .

Explore further: Beavers and their dams may help amphibians

Related Stories

Marijuana ingredients show promise in battling superbugs

September 8, 2008

Substances in marijuana show promise for fighting deadly drug-resistant bacterial infections, including so-called "superbugs," without causing the drug's mood-altering effects, scientists in Italy and the United Kingdom are ...

Recommended for you

New polymer creates safer fuels

October 1, 2015

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact. Researchers ...

Researchers print inside gels to create unique shapes

September 30, 2015

(—A team of researchers at the University of Florida has taken the technique of printing objects inside of a gel a step further by using a highly shear-rate sensitive gel. In their paper published in the journal ...

How a molecular motor untangles protein

October 1, 2015

A marvelous molecular motor that untangles protein in bacteria may sound interesting, yet perhaps not so important. Until you consider the hallmarks of several neurodegenerative diseases—Huntington's disease has tangled ...

Anti-aging treatment for smart windows

October 1, 2015

Electrochromic windows, so-called 'smart windows', share a well-known problem with rechargeable batteries – their limited lifespan. Researchers at Uppsala University have now worked out an entirely new way to rejuvenate ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.