Frogs may be lifesavers in global fight against hospital superbugs

Frogs could help scientists in the global fight against hospital superbugs.

Certain species of Australian frogs secrete chemicals which are toxic to different bacteria, including the sometimes-fatal MRSA strain which is resistant to multiple types of antibiotics, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday.

Scientists in Sydney and Melbourne are researching the secretions of several frogs, including the green-eyed tree frog and the golden bell frog, the paper said.

Antimicrobial compounds called peptides that are emitted from some frogs could be used to destroy the membranes of bacteria and stop them developing resistance.

Usually, antimicrobial peptides killed bacteria by puncturing or lysing (causing them to disintegrate) their membranes, research leader professor Frances Separovic said.

This made it hard for bacteria to develop resistance to them, she added.

"On the other hand, most antibiotics inhibit protein synthesis in a bacteria and, over time, mutations in the bacteria lead to resistance to the antibiotics," she said.

The researchers have studied the bacteria's membranes and the effect of the frogs' antimicrobial peptides to see how they work on them.

"By understanding the peptides' 3D structure and mechanism of action at a molecular level, we may be able to increase their antibiotic potency," Separovic added.

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