Monday, March 3, 2008

Jungle frog’s anti-infection agent may help millions of diabetics

A nocturnal frog that dwells in the ponds and lagoons of the Amazon could prove to be an unlikely lifesaver for millions of people suffering from diabetes, researchers say.

The South American “paradoxical frog” (Pseudis paradoxa) owes its name to an uncanny ability to shrink as it grows older.

Scientists studying the properties of its slimy skin have found a substance that can stimulate the release of insulin, the vital hormone that is deficient in sufferers from diabetes.

Scientists have made an artificial copy of the peptide, a protein-building block that protects the frog from infection, and have suggested that it could be used to boost insulin production in people with Type 2 diabetes.

In laboratory tests, researchers found that the paradoxical frog’s peptide, known as pseudin-2, increased release of insulin in cultured cells by 50 per cent. However, more work must be carried out before the therapy is ready to be tested on human patients.

Currently there are 2.3 million diagnosed sufferers from diabetes in the UK, most of whom have the Type 2 form of the disease. Usually occurring in middle age, Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity and develops because the body does not produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to the concentrations available.

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