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Smelly frogs may be key to fighting antibiotic-resistant infections

Foul smelling frogs may save lives, according to new research in the Journal of Proteome Research. Examining nine species of Chinese frogs, known as “odorous” frogs for their off-putting smell, researchers have discovered an astounding variety of antimicrobial peptides, or put simply bacteria-killers.

Researchers recorded 728 antimicrobial peptides from the nine species, making these frogs the possessors of the greatest known variety of antibacterial substances on Earth. In fact, the substances on the frogs account for nearly one-third of all known antimicrobial peptides. In addition, ninety percent of the peptides recorded were new.

Frogs have long adapted skins that secrete antibodies due to living in hot, moist places where infections thrive. The amphibians have been instrumental already in creating drugs to fight infections, HIV, and mental illness.

Unfortunately frogs are in the midst of what may well be a mass extinction. Pummeled by deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, overexploitation and climate change, frogs are also combating a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis. Currently the IUCN Red List has found that 41 percent of the world’s 7,000 amphibians are threatened with extinction. It’s believed that at least 120 amphibians have gone extinct in the last 30 years, and some species likely vanished before they were ever discovered, taking their medicinal potential with them.

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Extinct frog rediscovered in Israel

(11/21/2011) After its marshland was drained, researchers thought the Hula painted frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) had vanished for good. However a patrol at the Ha-Hula lake in Israel recently discovered a single female amphibian that turned out to be the long-lost, and long-sought, Hula painted frog.

New site is a match-maker for world’s endangered frogs

(11/03/2011) A new initiative by the conservation group, Amphibian Ark, hopes to match lonely, vanishing frogs with a prince/princess to to save them. Dubbed after online dating sites, the program is working to connect supporters and donors with amphibian conservation programs in need. Currently, amphibians are among the world’s most imperiled species with 41 percent threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red list.

Saving Ghana’s vanishing frogs

(11/02/2011) Frogs need all the help they can get. With the IUCN Red List estimating that 41 percent of amphibians are endangered, frogs are currently the world’s most imperiled animal family. Scientists estimate that around 200 amphibian species have been lost to extinction in recent decades to habitat loss, pollution, and a devastating fungal disease. Yet as the frog emergency worsens, there have been positive movements in conservation. The most recent comes from the small West African country of Ghana. Partnering with the enthusiastic US-based organization, SAVE THE FROGS!, two Ghanaian herpetologists, Gilbert Baase Adum and Caleb Ofori, have started a sister branch in their country: SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana.

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