Frog Milk: Babushka’s Tale or Surprising Scientific Breakthrough?

There is an old Russian fable about two frogs who fell in a bucket of milk:

Which seems like a silly premise (but hey, it’s a fable, and much weirder shit happens in those stories), it is apparently based in more fact than you’d expect. See, over there in Mother Russia, there is an old practice of dropping frogs into buckets of milk to prevent the milk from going sour.

An odd practice, to be sure. However, this very practice has led to the discovery of new antibiotic substances. Crazy, no?

Researchers at Moscow State University discovered these antibiotic compounds in the skin of the Russian Brown Frog, the very frog that used to get tossed into the milk to keep it good.

Hey baby, bring a little milk over here and things are gonna get FREAKY.

See, amphibians secrete antimicrobial peptides through their skin to protect themselves against bacteria and the like. The researchers at Moscow State discovered a whopping 76 antimicrobial compounds (in addition to the 21 already known) in the frogs’ skin. Some of these substances performed very well against salmonella and staphylococcus bacteria, giving us the potential for new treatment options (particularly against pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains) and explaining why the Russians kept tossing the little guys into their milk.

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