Frog poison


donated by Herpetofauna


The skin of amphibians is known to contain many interesting substances. For example, certain poisons act as powerful painkillers, potent blood pressure lowers and as strong antibiotics against resistant bacteria, cancer cells and viruses. Until now, research has mainly been done into these interesting applications, but the effect of these poisons in the frog itself has not yet been properly researched.

Frogs use these venoms (protein-like toxins) to defend itself against predators and microbial infections. Many of these venoms are similar in structure and function to hormones found in a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and other vertebrates. Because of this, it has been believed for decades that these hormone-like poisons protect the frog by overdosing a predator with hormones and thus disrupting its physiology. However, this has never been well researched at the molecular level.

Therefore, this research focuses on how this cocktail of poisons works to protect a frog from predators. We look at the predator/prey interactions at the molecular level in real-life. The research is being conducted by Tijn Raaymakers and Kim Roelants of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and in collaboration with Ghent University. Besides the fact that this study provides more insight into the functioning of frog poison and the biology of amphibians in general, the research may lead to the discovery of new functions of these venoms and thus open doors to new medical applications.