Russian Secret stops milk from spoiling
Yesterday I shared with you some news about recently discovered natural antibiotic substances in human sweat. They fight germs on the skin, helping prevent infection. Today, I thought I’d share another angle on the story: A bizarre folk remedy for preventing spoiled milk has led scientists to discover another potential source of new antibiotics.
Believe it or not, in Russia there’s an old folk belief that putting a frog in fresh milk keeps the milk from spoiling. No, I’m not making this up! People there have long done this very thing. To prevent milk from going sour, they put a Russian brown frog in it.
Some enterprising scientists wondered if there wasn’t something behind this colorful practice. As it turns out, like human skin, frog skin is bathed in peptide compounds with antibacterial activity. In fact, the Russian brown frog’s skin excretes a mixture of nearly 100 different peptides (protein fragments) that help protect the animal’s delicate skin from infection by mold, bacteria and other microbes. In laboratory tests, some of these compounds were as good at fighting off infection-causing microbes as certain prescription antibiotics.
From there it appears to have been a small leap of imagination, if you’ll forgive the pun, to wonder if these compounds protect the skin of other animals—such as humans, for instance. And it turns out they do. As I reported yesterday, the human versions of these chemicals are activated by good old sweat.
Well if you have little boys and they bring you a couple frogs found in your backyard make sure they are Brown Russian ones before dropping them into your milk carton, okay?
Samgina TY, Vorontsov EA, Gorshkov VA, Hakalehto E, Hanninen O, Zubarev RA, et al. Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Skin Peptidome of Russian Brown Frog Rana temporaria. J Proteome Res. 2012 Dec 7;11(12):6213-22. doi: 10.1021/pr300890m. Epub 2012 Nov 13