Fungal infections can now be treated with the help of bacteria present in frog's skin. The bacteria may help develop alternative drugs to treat diseases caused by fungi that are becoming more drug-resistant in humans, reveals a new study.
The study showed that Pseudomonas Cichorii -- a bacteria with antifungal properties living on frog's skins -- can potentially inhibit the growth of Aspergillus Fumigatus (A. Fumigatus) -- a fungus that causes invasive aspergillosis -- an infectious disease -- in humans with impaired immune system.
The research also holds promise for frogs, as the bacteria may help defy the chytridiomycosis epidemic, a major cause of disease-related deaths among amphibians worldwide, the researchers said.
"Although more studies are needed, our collaboration could spark interest in conservation of amphibians as a novel source of bioactive compounds in humans.
"For amphibians, this is a promising study because there are only four chemically described bacterial secondary metabolites that inhibit chytrid fungi," Martin said.
For the study, published in Scientific Reports journal, the team traveled to the Chiriqui highlands in Panama, where the chytrid fungus, responsible for the disease chytridiomycosis, has severely affected amphibian populations.
They collected samples from seven frog species to find out what kind of skin bacteria they harbored.
In the laboratory, 201 bacterial strains were retrieved from the samples and tested against A. Fumigatus, in patients having an impaired immune system.
Of these, 29 showed antifungal activity, but particularly one bacterium called Pseudomonas Cichorii showed the greatest potential to inhibit the growth of A. Fumigatus.
"I consider that bioprospecting compounds from skin secretions or bacteria living in frog's skins is just the beginning," said scientist Roberto Ibanez from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City.
"This research has identified an antifungal compound produced by frog skin bacteria, which may be used to control pathogenic fungi affecting humans and amphibians. More research will be required to determine its potential medicinal use," Ibanez said.