Frog foam from Tungara frogs may be the future of non-toxic antibiotic carrier, scientists revealed.

Researchers analyzed frog foams and proved that it has the ability to take up drugs before releasing it at a highly stable rate. The frog foam uptake was compared with model dyes. The dyes released the drugs steadily over a period of 72 to 168 hours. The frog foam, which has the vancomycin antibiotic, prevented an in vitro growth of Staphylococcus aureus in just 48 hours.

To further prove the efficiency and safety for human cells of the frog foam, it was tested in vitro against keratinocytes in a span of 24 hours. The skin cells were still viable despite being exposed to the foam for a day.

Sarah Brozio, one of the researchers, said that although the frog foams offer a breakthrough in topical antibiotic delivery, they are not ideal for long-term drug release.

"This foam comes from a tiny frog and yet offers us a whole new approach that could prevent wound infections, and with increasing antibiotic resistance it's important that all new tactics are explored," Brozio added.

During egg laying, Tungara frogs or Engystomops pustulosus release a cocktail of protein, which they beat with their back legs to become frog foams. These foams serve as the eggs' protection from predators, diseases, and other environmental stresses.

The annual conference of microbiologists in Liverpool revealed that the team of scientists was able to engineer an E. coli to produce Ranaspumin-2, the foam's protein constituent that also non-toxic to human cells.

The research aims to produce synthetic foam that has the stability of the Tungara frog foam.

"Foams are unusual in nature and are typically made of inactivated proteins, yet this foam is stable and importantly compatible with human cells, making it potentially ideal for pharmaceutical applications," said Dr. Paul Hoskisson, the research team lead.

He acknowledged that the frog foams would take a while before it becomes commercially available but they are positive that it would be crucial for wound and burn treatment in supporting tissue healing along with drug delivery.

Discovering ways of effectively and safely delivering drugs to the human system remains a deep concern among microbiologists and physicians alike due to the increasing number of patients who develop drug resistance with long-term antibiotic use.

Frogs often aid in scientific studies. Early this year, Japanese scientists were able to regrow and reintegrate a functional limb in frogs. The breakthrough is believed to provide experts a basis of regeneration of amputated limbs in humans.

Photo: Brian Gratwicke | Flickr

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