Soon, the frogs will control how our blood flows

Two different types of frog have the key to channeling and stopping blood flow to different areas of the body. It may change medicine as we know it.

Tumors are seen as an invading enemy in the body; spreading and destroying. Like any other enemy invasion, tumors need practical support to keep going. Once a tumor gets big enough, it has to nourish itself with blood to stay alive. Either it can monopolize an existing blood vessel, or it has to get blood vessels to grow into it and keep it supplied. The growth of new blood vessels is called angiogenesis, and around five billion dollars has been spent in pursuit of some way to control it. It's possible that that control has been hopping by this whole time.

The waxy monkey frog is a tree frog in Central and South America. When it needs to get around, it doesn't hop, but swings like a monkey from branch to branch. It appears wax-dipped because it secretes a waxy substance to reflect light and protect itself from the heat. In that substance, collected by scientists, is a protein that can simply switch off angiogenesis. It can also stop the growth of existing blood vessels. Almost any encroaching growth in a body needs blood. These proteins could starve tumors to death, or just keep them so small that was a terminal illness will soon be an annoying, but treatable, condition.

Meanwhile, the giant fire-bellied toad of China, secretes a substance that switches on angiogenesis. This could help stroke and transplant patients oxygenate starved tissue. Simply grow new blood vessels to a damaged area, or widen existing ones. The combination of the two frog proteins could have us one day mapping out and building blood vessels like city planners building up a neighborhood. Or it could lead to a race of amphibious frog people.

Either way, it's cool.

Via Queen's University Belfast.