June 10, 2011

Frog Skin Treats Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Proteins found in frog skin may be used to treat cancer, diabetes, stroke and transplant patients by regulating the growth of blood vessels, according to new research.

Investigators from Queen's University Belfast identified two proteins that can be used to regulate angiogenesis, which is the process by which blood vessels grow in the body. They say this discovery could potentially help them develop new treatments for more than 70 major diseases and conditions that affect more than 1 billion people in the world.

These proteins are found in secretions on the skins of the Waxy Monkey Frog and the Giant Firebellied Toad. The investigators capture the frogs and gently extract the secretions without harming them in any way. The frogs are then released back into the wild.

"The proteins that we have discovered have the ability to either stimulate or inhibit the growth of blood vessels," Professor Chris Shaw, at the Queen's School of Pharmacy, was quoted as saying.

"By 'switching off' angiogenesis and inhibiting blood vessel growth, a protein from the Waxy Monkey Frog has the potential to kill cancer tumors. Most cancer tumors can only grow to a certain size before they need blood vessels to grow into the tumor to supply it with vital oxygen and nutrients. Stopping the blood vessels from growing will make the tumor less likely to spread and may eventually kill it. This has the potential to transform cancer from a terminal illness into a chronic condition."

Shaw went on to say, "On the other hand, a protein from the Giant Firebellied Toad has been found to 'switch on' angiogenesis and stimulate blood vessel growth. This has the potential to treat an array of diseases and conditions that require blood vessels to repair quickly, such as wound healing, organ transplants, diabetic ulcers, and damage caused by strokes or heart conditions."

The researchers say their aim is to unlock the potential of the natural world to treat common diseases. "We are absolutely convinced that the natural world holds the solutions to many of our problems; we just need to pose the right questions to find them," Shaw said.

SOURCE: Queen's University Belfast, June 7, 2011