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David V. Raju via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This Frog’s Slime Fights the Flu

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David V. Raju via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

We’re not going to tell you to start kissing frogs (please don’t), but you might want to shake their hands: Scientists have found that the slime from one species can kill certain strains of the flu virus. The researchers published their findings in the journal Immunity.

The skin of amphibians like frogs and salamanders secretes a gooey mucus that has previously been shown to have antibacterial properties. Scientists were curious to see if the slime could also fight off viruses. They collected goo samples from an Indian fungoid frog (Hydrophylax bahuvistara), then extracted 32 peptides that looked promising. Next, they pitted those 32 peptides against the H1 flu virus, just to see what would happen. Expectations were low.

The results were astonishing: four out of 32 peptides clobbered the virus. “I was almost knocked off my chair,” senior author Joshy Jacob of Emory University said in a statement.

"In the beginning, I thought that when you do drug discovery, you have to go through thousands of drug candidates, even a million, before you get one or two hits. And here we did 32 peptides, and we had four hits."

Jacob and his colleagues named the most successful peptide urumin, after the Indian whip-sword known as the urumi. They brewed up a urumin compound and gave it to unvaccinated mice, then exposed those mice to the flu. Not only did the mice not get H1—they also didn’t get any side effects. The urumin only killed the virus, not anything else.

The scientists’ next steps will include trying to create a stable version of urumin that can be tested in people, and to look through other frog slime.

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The Mules That Help Fight California's Wildfires
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Forget dalmatians—in remote parts of Northern California, mules are the fire department's four-legged helpers of choice.

When a blaze roars to life in a residential area, firefighters can use trucks to transport the tools needed to battle it. But in the California wilderness, where vehicles—and sometimes thanks to environmental restrictions, helicopters—can’t venture, mules bear the burden. According to Business Insider, the donkey-horse hybrids can carry 120 pounds of supplies apiece while walking 4 mph up rugged terrain. Llamas are also capable of making the trek, but mules are preferred for their resilience and intelligence.

You can see them at work in the video below.

These animals do extraordinary work for the country, but they’re not the only mules assisting the U.S. government. The Havasupai village of Supai is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and the mail is delivered there each day by parcel-toting mules.

[h/t Business Insider]

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