Kerala is put on high alert, once again, as Swine flu (H1N1 flu) spread was reported across the state, killing 18 people in just four months. As the Health Department scrambles to find ways to check the spread, some Malayalee scientists are after frogs to find an antidote for the deadly flu virus.

Also read: Seven new night frogs from Western Ghats; four of them smaller than thumbnail!

The scientists have, in fact, found that the mucus of a particular frog found in the Western Ghats could effectively fight H1N1 influenza, generally known as swine flu. The remarkable flu-killing capacity of the skin secretions from Hydrophylax bahuvistara, (Wide-spread Fungoid Frog) a unique frog found in the Western Ghats in Kerala, was identified by a research team of Thiruvananthapuram-based Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Bio-technology (RGCB) and Joshy Jacob, associate professor of Emory University in the USA.  


 Lab experiments proved that the anti-microbial peptides (mini proteins) in the frog mucus were capable of neutralizing numerous flu strains, including H1N1. The researchers named the peptide as 'Urumin' and published a paper on their finding in the latest issue of international journal 'Immunity.Urumin specifically targets the conserved stalk of H1 hemagglutinin and is effective at neutralizing drug-resistant H1 influenza viruses, the study stated. Urumin targeted the conserved stalk region of H1 hemagglutinin, the spike-shaped protein of the flu viruses and blows it up. 


Though Urumin is found to have working effectively against flu-virus, it will need more research before it is tried on humans.


Studies by scientists of RGCB have identified several potential defense peptides from skin secretions of frogs that check microbial growth. Similar studies are progressing in the institute.