Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Science

South Indian Frog Oozes Molecule That Inexplicably Decimates Flu Viruses (arstechnica.com) 114

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: From the slimy backs of a South Indian frog comes a new way to blast influenza viruses. A compound in the frog's mucus -- long known to have germ-killing properties -- can latch onto flu virus particles and cause them to burst apart, researchers report in Immunity. The peptide is a potent and precise killer, able to demolish a whole class of flu viruses while leaving other viruses and cells unharmed. But scientists don't know exactly how it pulls off the viral eviscerations. No other antiviral peptide of its ilk seems to work the same way. The study authors, led by researchers at Emory University, note that the peptide appears uniquely nontoxic -- something that can't be said of many other frog-based compounds. Thus, the peptide on its own holds promise of being a potential therapy someday. But simply figuring out how it works could move researchers closer to a vaccine or therapy that could take out all flus, ditching the need for yearly vaccinations for each season's flavor of flu.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

South Indian Frog Oozes Molecule That Inexplicably Decimates Flu Viruses

Comments Filter:
  • Decimate? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tovam ( 1444061 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:05AM (#54267971)
    Decimate: Kill one in every ten
    That doesn't sound very useful.
    • Re:Decimate? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aleksander suur ( 4765615 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:22AM (#54268003)
      That sounds very useful, finding mechanism where a finely tuned molecule happens to demolish a whole class of viruses could be a discovery on the level with antibiotics.
      • That sounds very useful, finding mechanism where a finely tuned molecule happens to demolish a whole class of viruses could be a discovery on the level with antibiotics.

        It already exists: Favipiravir - originally designed to combat the Flu, even works on Ebola. They don't use it except in extreme cases because it's the only drug known to take out nearly all known viruses while safe and they are afraid of resistances forming like what happened with antibiotics.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Decimate: Kill one in every ten
      That doesn't sound very useful.

      I dunno. Mozilla seems to think it's great version 53 is going to decimate the number of crashes [slashdot.org] Firefox has.

    • It's just another weapon in the arsenal of the Mexican Staring Frog of southern Sri Lanka. The thing is more deadly than we thought...

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
      From the Oxford English Dictionary [oxforddictionaries.com]

      VERB

      [WITH OBJECT]

      1 Kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of. ‘the inhabitants of the country had been decimated’

      1.1 Drastically reduce the strength or effectiveness of (something) ‘public transport has been decimated’

      2 (historical) Kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group. ‘the man who is to determine whether it be necessary to decimate a large body
    • Re:Decimate? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chas ( 5144 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @05:36AM (#54268287) Homepage Journal

      It's one of those terms that people who like to pretend they're well educated use.

      Unfortunately they conflate it with "devastate" (to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy. to confound or overwhelm).

      The misuse has persisted so long that it's distressingly common nowadays among the Inteligencia-wannabes. A side-effect of morons who have been indoctrinated by morons indoctrinating yet another generation of morons.

      • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

        It's one of those terms that people who like to pretend they're well educated use.

        Unfortunately they conflate it with "devastate" (to lay waste or make desolate; ravage; destroy. to confound or overwhelm).

        The misuse has persisted so long that it's distressingly common nowadays among the Inteligencia-wannabes. A side-effect of morons who have been indoctrinated by morons indoctrinating yet another generation of morons.

        Or, you know, every dictionary and scholar on the subject. But if you are pissing and moaning about it not being used properly, then you should go look in the mirror. The original English use was for a 10% tithe, or taking a 10th. It was over 100 years (1528 to 1676) between the first known written use to refer to tithing before anyone used it to mean to "kill one in every 10". Now I'm sure you'll come back with "blah blah Romans blah blah" but they didn't speak English, they spoke Latin. And if you want

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

        A side-effect of morons who have been indoctrinated by morons indoctrinating yet another generation of morons.

        Talks about "morons". Doesn't realise that definitions of words change over time. lol. Look in the fucking dictionary.

        I know what it originally meant, I also know that the meaning has changed. Somehow I'm able to get the fuck over it. You should try.

        • by Chas ( 5144 )

          No. The meaning has NOT changed.

          The meaning has been conflated by people who don't understand the proper usage of the term.

          This is not the same thing.

          • The meaning has been conflated by people who don't understand the proper usage of the term.

            Like those ignorant editors of the Oxford English Dictionary.
            They don't know nothin! AmIRight?

    • Yeah, you'd think that by now slashdot editors would have learned not to use that particular word outside of its literal meaning in a headline. The correct definition is always pointed out early in the comments.

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )

        The correct definition is always pointed out early in the comments.

        Trolls point out the original literal translation, not the correct definition as currently used in the English language.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

      Whether you're pleased about it or not, the modern definition has mutated from the original. It happens.

      Most people nowadays use it to mean "to completely fuck up".

      I guess these days we don't often execute one tenth of an infantry unit to encourage effort and loyalty.

      • Romans only did it very rarely. the Legionnaires were one of the first professional Armies in the world and Rome invested considerable time, effort, and money in their training and maintenance.

    • Decimate: Kill one in every ten

      That doesn't sound very useful.

      STEM training should be mandatory for all journalism students.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      Decimate: Kill one in every ten That doesn't sound very useful.

      That's the ancient meaning, but it isn't quite complete the way you've stated it. It's actually, "to select by lot and kill every tenth person". But since the 18th century, the usual meaning is "to destroy a great number or proportion". Common synonyms are exterminate, massacre, eradicate, and annihilate.

  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:34AM (#54268045) Journal

    ...how all the technical and scientific capabilities of humankind cannot develop an antibody for a particular virus, but our immune systems do it in a couple of days, no sweat. Or rather, possibly lots of sweat, but they do it. One would thing that it would be possible to replicate the process somehow.

    Note: I understand that, in the case indicated in the article, it goes beyond that, offering some kind of general-purpose antibody, probably targeting parts of the virus cover that are more hidden, and usually don't mutate. But anyway. That we cannot design that peptide, and must rely on the blind watchmaker to find it for us, is a bit baffling.
     

    • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:51AM (#54268085)

      proteomics is a very new field of study. It has only been very recently that we have been able to synthesize long dna and rna strands inexpensively, and even more recently that we could reliably induce quality insertion into a target organism for biosynthesis.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Antibodies themselves don't actually get rid of the viruses. They just serve as markers. Since different strains of viruses have different structures, they require different antibodies to be marked. The time from infection to elimination of the infection is due to the system developing the marker antibodies, dispersing them, and then hunting the offending items down via white blood cells.

      Things like this usually function on a completely different mechanism. To compare to bacteria, some antibacterials attack

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @04:41AM (#54268177)
      Antibodies, like all proteins, are pretty complex molecules. The binding sites in particular are very tricky. They need to be designed to bind properly to the target AND ONLY THE TARGET protein. This involves balancing physical geometry and electrical charges to match up with the target protein to get a correct fit and strong binding. This needs to happen at the atomic level, using amino acid building blocks. We don't even fully understand how our bodies do it yet. Think of it this way: we are still working towards building our first commercial, very basic nano machines. Our bodies (and all life for that matter) are filled with them. These machines, such as enzymes, are capable of doing amazing things, like building and re-arranging molecules at the atomic level. Each one customized to do a very specific task. We can hijack biology and genetics to make some of the things we want but as far as our technology goes, we are way, way behind nature.

      Right now our best option is to identify existing antibodies and isolate the genetic material the organism used to create it and using that to create GMOs to reproduce it.
      • Each one customized to do a very specific task

        Rather I would say each one was selected for and ended having the function they have now, rather than customized. We even have some protein which started at some function, then with each different selection ended having a different function, which was more important for the survival of the organism, in addition of the original one. IIRC flagella in bacteria was originally a transport protein between intra/extra membrane environment.

        • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
          True. I didn't mean to imply anything with that.

          But if you think of it, that adds a level of crazy coolness. It's like roombas evolving through environmental changes and small manufacturing errors to be a oil changing robot.
    • This doesn't seem to be like antibodies though. It seems to be something non-toxic that the viruses are somehow terminally addicted to. They just suck it in until they explode. This doesn't seem to be an approach anyone had thought of before.

      • It seems to be something non-toxic that the viruses are somehow terminally addicted to. They just suck it in until they explode.

        Nope. Viruses don't have a metabolism outside of the host cell DNA/RNA. So they don't "suck", and there is no space inside the capsid (outside shell) to "suck" anything in to. From the article:

        "The researchers aren't sure why, but they hypothesize that after urumin binds HA, it exerts electrostatic forces on the surface of the particle that cause the whole shell to rupture."

        So the protein acts on the outside. The binding process is relatively passive, meaning the proteins just randomly move around until they bump into an HA stalk, and electrostatic charges make them stick.
        Most antibodies stick the same way, but on the HA heads instead of the HA stalks. They also prevent the virus to inva

    • What is baffling is you seem to think we are so technologically advanced that we should be able to do this, we are not. Sure we have nifty cellphones and stuffs, and that IS amazing to some degree, but we are nowhere near the technological level needed. We have a long way to go, and we probably won't make it (as a civilization at least).

      If we don't destroy ourselves in a nuclear war, we will poison ourselves with all the crap we are doing to the planet.

      Off the beaten track and not really relevant, but
    • ...how all the technical and scientific capabilities of humankind cannot develop an antibody for a particular virus, but our immune systems do it in a couple of days, no sweat. Or rather, possibly lots of sweat, but they do it. One would thing that it would be possible to replicate the process somehow.

      Yes, it's called Phage therapy [wikipedia.org]. As compared to typical drug therapy, it is more effective, but takes somewhere between significantly and prohibitively more effort.

    • Oh we never make any antibodies from scratch in the lab, they're raised in lab animal serum by spiking them with the protein you want antibodies against, and purifying them out. In a vertebrate you have all the parallelism of evolution involved in helping make them, which you can't get so easily in vitro. Cartoon version of how it works in your body: you develop B cells. They randomly rearrange their genome where it codes for what antibodies they will make. Cells that react too often kill themselves, a
    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Just because something hasn't been done yet doesn't mean it will never be done. Some problems are hard. Immunology is hard.
    • ...but our immune systems do it in a couple of days, no sweat.

      Except that's not always the case. We don't do it sometimes, see the various plagues and incurable infections like HIV, and in other cases, our bodies fuck this process up, and create for themselves autoimmune diseases. There are a surprisingly large number of autoimmune diseases out there, some minor and some debilitating and deadly, and these are the result of our bodies screwing up this process of developing antibodies.

      Even as we can replicate this process better, we're going to have to be very

    • You've got put things into perspective. Evolution has billions of years behind it, and domestication of animals drastically altered our immune systems. We just figured out that DNA was a thing a bit over half a century ago.
  • Biodiversity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2017 @03:53AM (#54268091)

    See, politicians, conserving biodiversity is not just hippy-happy-pro-Western-and-gay-culture-talk, potentially leading to the evils of godless democracy and missing the key authority figure of you.

  • planet-gatesecommerce online shopping [planet-gates.com]
  • Guys, this is my backyard. My former home state had been ruled by film actors/actresses/script writers ( MGR [wikipedia.org] Jaylalitha [wikipedia.org] Karunanidhi [wikipedia.org] Annadurai [wikipedia.org] ) who played do-gooder heros. The current crop of politicians in my home state is slimier than anything the world has ever seen. If the slime from the stupid frogs kills rhinoviruses, the slime from the current politicians would even kill HIV!!!! Just saying ....
  • "Ok, so we're all at the lab getting high when we ran out of weed and Jim started telling us about how you can hallucinate from licking the back of a frog..." ;)

  • by Filaar ( 4936821 )
    Great Article!
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @07:24AM (#54268535)

    but this sounds to me like an additional call to, as a species, get our environmental practices under control and stop 'instinctifying' flora and fauna at a breakneck pace. With findings like this, I have to wonder how many illness-treating, disease-defeating compounds we may have sent into oblivion by killing off the plants, animals, and insects which produced them.

    • ... stop 'instinctifying' flora ...

      Damn - that should have been "extinctifying". That's what I get for posting before I'm fully awake.

  • Big Pharma... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Poingggg ( 103097 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @08:14AM (#54268673) Homepage

    And Big Pharma will have this patented (to never be seen again) in 3..2..1...

    Anything that can really heal any illness is not profitable, it kills its own market. It's much more profitable to make products that fight symptoms of diseases, and preferably have some side effects of their own for which other stuff can be sold.
    Don't ever think Big Pharma wants you to be(come) healthy!

    • An antiviral like this would be more profitable than vaccines that you only need once per strain. This would be more like buying Round Up For Flu than a lifetime protection vaccine. So, this actually has a chance of moving forward without government money. It's the vaccines that are DOA without government backing.
  • OTOH I have tons of 'molecules' in plastic bottles under my kitchen sink that can also have germ-killing properties.

  • contain frog slime...but it has side effects... I'll leave that up to your imagination...

  • We already have a non-toxic molecule able to efficiently prevent flu, it is called vitamin D [wikipedia.org].

Trap full -- please empty.

Working...