The accidental discovery of a frog's secret may provide a giant leap for medical science.
For years, biochemist Michael Zasloff had been surgically removing the ovaries of African clawed frogs for research. After surgery, the frogs were returned to their tanks. The tanks offered conditions very different from a hospital recovery room. The water in the tanks was alive with bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses. Yet, the frogs' surgical wounds healed without infection almost every time. After five years, Zasloff finally realized that something unusual was going on.
Frogs, like the rest of us, have their immune system. However, the normal immune system does not work well at the low temperatures in which frogs are usually found. So Zasloff began studying the frogs' skin. After months of work, he finally discovered two previously unknown proteins in the frogs' skin that kill a wide range of bacteria and fungi. He learned that the frogs have a second, independent defense system to help them live in a potentially fatal environment.
Zasloff named the new proteins he discovered magainins. He chose the term from the Hebrew word magain, which means "shield". In the Old Testament, God is often called our "magain", our shield. Clearly, His special love and care in helping His creatures in a dangerous environment extends even to frogs!