Frog could be AIDS saviour
A chemical in the skin of the red-eyed tree frogs can block infection by HIV, reports Vijay Dutt.india Updated: Oct 10, 2005 00:39 IST
A small red-eyed frog could be the key to getting rid of Aids. Scientists have discovered that a chemical in the skin of the red-eyed tree frogs, generally found in Australia, can block infection by HIV by destroying the viral particles that lead to Aids.
The hope is that further research could help scientists to produce an "after exposure" lotion that could be applied for protection against HIV and Aids.
It was explained that the chemical is part of the two-and-a-half inch-long frog's defences. Special glands on their skin produce and store packets of the compound which is released when they are injured or alarmed and acts to protect them from infection by killing fungi, bacteria and viruses.
In tests using human immune system cells, it was found that the chemical killed HIV particles but left the immune cells unharmed. More tests showed the chemical could stop the virus being passed between cells, thereby blocking infection.
Scientists envisage something prophylactic so if one is exposed to HIV through unprotected sex, one could use the lotion to give a fairly high dose of the proteins in the region where one thinks the virus might be. It could be effective even if used hours after the exposure.
The red-eyed frogs could become a most protected species.