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10 Weirdest Sources for Antibiotics


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Frog Skin
Researchers have identified more than 100 potential bacteria-killing substances from 6,000 frog species. Lawrie Williams/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Researchers have identified more than 100 potential bacteria-killing substances from 6,000 frog species. Lawrie Williams/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

They may look kind of comical with those big bulging eyes and long tongues, but don't let their looks deceive you. Frogs, who've been around for 300 million years and seem to thrive even in polluted waterways, are amazingly tough, resilient animals. (Although there has been an epidemic of deaths from fungus.) That's why researchers have started looking to frog skin—or rather, the chemicals found on it—as a potential source of new antibiotics to protect humans against disease.

In 2010, researchers at United Arab Emirates University reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society that after studying 6,000 different frog species, they had identified more than 100 potentially bacteria-killing substances that eventually might be developed as drugs. Developing antibiotics from chemicals on frog skin is a tricky feat, because some of the chemicals can be toxic to human cells as well as bacteria. The researchers are trying to get around that problem by subtly altering the chemicals' molecular structure to make them less dangerous for people, while still retaining their bacteria-killing properties [source: BBC News].