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Anti-fungal Drugs Could Save Endangered Frogs Around the World

09/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Is there hope for the Panamanian golden frog, a national symbol of Panama which uniquely communicates with other frogs by waving a leg?

Anti-fungal drugs could save endangered frogs around the world, according to IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Panamanian golden frog was declared extinct by BBC Natural History filmmakers in 2008 after massive devastation by the chytrid fungus, a disease attacking frog populations globally.

panamanian gold frog photo
The Panamanian Gold Frog. Photo via Flickr

According to IUCN--the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization--"Amphibians are the most threatened group of animals in the world, with one in three of the 6,000 recognized amphibian species at risk of extinction."

The newly formed Amphibian Survival Alliance, a coalition of over 20 organizations including IUCN, the Smithsonian Institution, and Zoo Atlanta, will spearhead frog research and recovery efforts with initiatives including exploring resistance in captive-bred populations and translocations, in addition to anti-fungal drugs, stemming from naturally-occurring bacteria making some amphibians resistant to the chytrid fungus.

Pepper Tree frog Brazil photo
The Pepper tree frog. Photo via birdcapemay.org

Saving the frogs could also save us. According to Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission and convenor of the Amphibian Mini-Summit,

Many have an arsenal of compounds stored in their skin that have the potential to address a multitude of human diseases. However, opportunities are being lost, such as the Southern Gastric Brooding Frog, which could have led to the development of a medicine
for human peptic ulcers, had it not gone extinct.