- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
ScienceShot: Toads Keep Their Brains Germ-Free
13 April 2011 4:43 pm
Handling toads won't give you warts; in fact, it just might clean your hands. Although scientists have long known that the skin of fire-bellied toads contains a variety of small antimicrobial proteins, or peptides, researchers have now found that the amphibians' brains harbor a vast array of these germ killers as well. By performing genetic analyses and mass spectrometry on ground-up toad brains, the researchers found 79 different antimicrobial peptides—the widest variety ever seen in the brain of any animal. When the researchers tested the peptides out on bacteria, viruses, and fungi, some of them turned out to be very powerful germ killers. Their purpose, the researchers propose in the Journal of Proteome Research this month, is to protect toads from any pathogens that can get through the blood-brain barrier. No word yet on whether a toad-brain based hand soap is in the works.
See more ScienceShots.