Peptide found in frog mucus protects against influenza virus

In the search for new drugs to treat cases of flu, scientists have found a unique class of antiviral agent in amphibians.

Hydrophylax bahuvistara or fungoid frog

There is an increasing need for new antiviral agents against influenza-A viruses as during flu pandemics there is insufficient time to produce vaccines. Frog mucus contains a number of molecules known to be capable of killing some bacteria and viruses.

Researchers have discovered that a host defence peptide (HDP), taken from the skin of the southern Indian Hydrophylax bahuvistara frog, can destroy many strains of human flu.

Published in Immunity
(18 April 2017), the study found that by targeting the conserved stalk region of H1 haemagglutinin in a similar way to antibodies induced by universal flu vaccines, the HDP, which they named urumin, could physically destroy drug-resistant H1 influenza viruses. It was also found to protect mice from lethal influenza infection.

The researchers concluded that urumin could potentially contribute to first-line antiviral treatments during outbreaks of flu, particularly as HDPs are less prone to resistance than conventional drug therapies.


[1] Holthausen DJ, Lee SH, Kumar VTV et al. An amphibian host defense peptide is virucidal for human H1 hemagglutinin-bearing influenza viruses. Immunity 2017:46;1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.03.018

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, June 2017, Vol 9, No 6;9(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202705

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