Azara Blog: A possible cure for frog killing disease

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Date published: 2007/10/29

The BBC says:

New Zealand scientists have found what appears to be a cure for the disease that is responsible for wiping out many of the world's frog populations.

Chloramphenicol, currently used as an eye ointment for humans, may be a lifesaver for the amphibians, they say.

The researchers found frogs bathed in the solution became resistant to the killer disease, chytridiomycosis.

The fungal disease has been blamed for the extinction of one-third of the 120 species lost since 1980.
...
The researchers tried using chloramphenicol as both an ointment, applied to the frogs' backs, and as a solution.

They found that placing the animals in the solution delivered the best results. The team has admitted it was surprised by the outcome.

"You don't usually expect antibiotics to do anything to fungi at all. And it does. We don't understand why it does, but it does," said Russell Poulter. v Professor Poulter, the molecular biologist who hunted down chloramphenicol, added: "It's also got the great advantage that it's incredibly cheap."

It's early days but this indeed sounds like good news. The downside so far is the method, having to place the frogs in a bath. But hopefully they will be able to sort out a more practical alternative soon enough.

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