New skin products could come from frog foam

The Tungara frog species produces a protein substance to protect eggs that could help humans, too. These animals are about an inch in size and live in the Caribbean and Central America.

Frog foam could lead to new skin care products. Specifically, Tungaras, which are about an inch in size, have rough brown skin and live in Central America and on the Caribbean coast, produce a special foam to protect their eggs that could also be used to create drugs to give to people to treat their skin. The properties of this substance were discovered by a group of biologists whose study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

What is frog foam to use to treat skin

After mating, female Tungara frogs produce a gelatinous protein slurry that the male turns into a foam that they both use to shape a nest for their eggs. "Stable foams are very rare in nature," said Paul Hoskisson, a microbiologist at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and one of the authors of the paper. "Most of the foams we see are the result of denatured and inactive proteins, like the foam in a pint of beer," he explained. The foam nest helps protect the eggs from marine predators and insulate them from the heat of UV radiation. By remaining moist even in dry periods, the foam allows the eggs to develop out of the water.

Biologists have found that Tungara frog foam also protects against microbes and, in the wild, can last up to 10 days, longer than needed for the eggs to hatch. Its protective and long-lasting qualities may be used to produce more effective pharmaceuticals. Synthetic foams are already being used as vehicles for topical drug delivery, but they only last up to a few hours. A product made from Tungara foam could last much longer. From tests of its use on human skin, early results have shown that the foam seems to trigger no allergies and continues to release beneficial effects for several days. A number of other tests are still missing before actual Tungara frog foam products are made, but already from the first results, scholars seem optimistic about their effectiveness.

Still from the animal world, scientists are also analyzing how spider silk could be used to replace single-use plastics.

Stefania Bernardini