Frog secretion kills Influenza A Virus

Nature can be relied upon to surprise you once in a while. Now, scientist have found that the secretion of a South Indian fungus frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara) contains a peptide that is virucidal for H1 hemagglutinin-bearing human influenza A viruses[1]. To collect that peptide, secretions from the skin of the recently discovered frog were gathered after delivering a mild electric shock[2].
This peptide, they called urumin, specifically targeted the conserved stalk region of H1 hemagglutinin and was effective against drug-resistant H1 influenza viruses. The peptide kills the Influenza A Virus, but leaves healthy tissue intact.

“The virus needs the haemagglutinin to get inside our cells,” said Dr Jacob, member of the research team. “What this peptide does is it binds to the haemagglutinin and destabilises the virus. And then it kills the virus.”

It also protected mice from lethal influenza A Virus infection. Urumin represents a unique class of anti-influenza virucide that specifically targets the hemagglutinin stalk region, similar to targeting of antibodies induced by universal influenza vaccines. Urumin therefore has the potential to contribute to first-line anti-viral treatments during influenza outbreaks.

The frog produces the flu-fighting substance in its secretion quite by coincidence, as one of a number of compounds that guard against harmful bacteria and fungi.

[1] Holthausen et al: An Amphibian Host Defense Peptide Is Virucidal for Human H1 Hemagglutinin-Bearing Influenza Viruses in Immunity – 2017
[2] Padhye et al: Hydrophylax bahuvistara, a new species of fungoid frog (Amphibia: Ranidae) from peninsular India in Journal of Threatened Taxa - 2015 

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