Antibiotics get a boost from stabilizing frog foam delivery

Tungara frog

Scottish researchers have turned to an unlikely source to deliver antibiotics: the protein-based foam produced by Trinidadian frogs to nest and protect their eggs. As part of a presentation at the Microbiology Society's Annual Conference in Liverpool, the team announced that the nontoxic substance could help prevent infections.

The research team from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow found that the foam produced by Tungara frogs--Engystomops pustulosus--has the ability to take up drugs and release them at a stable rate over a period of about 72 to 168 hours.

And loaded with the antibiotic vancomycin, the foam resisted growth in vitro of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria for up to 48 hours. And the human cells in the same test remained healthy after 24 hours of exposure, demonstrating the safety of the foam.

"Foams are usually very short-lived so they're not considered for long-term drug release, even though they have great potential for topical treatments," researcher Sarah Brozio said in a statement released by the Microbiology Society. "This foam comes from a tiny frog and yet offers us a whole new approach that could prevent wound infections, and with increasing antibiotic resistance it's important that all new tactics are explored."

Although they've been using the frog's version of the foam, the team is looking to develop a completely synthetic version that is equally stable and nontoxic.

- here's the Microbiology Society release