It’s American Diabetes Month, and it turns out the medical marvel of the frog once again has something to offer. The wood frog in Alaska may hold secrets that could create new diabetes control drugs. Here’s the story. And here’s the key excerpt:
Unlike most frogs, which spend the winter under water, in flowing streams or buried in the mud, the wood frog moves to dry land and prepares to freeze.
“They control the freezing process within their bodies,” (Carroll College biology profession Grant) Hokit said. “The problem with you or I freezing is, the water inside our cells ends up crystallizing and destroys the cells. But just before the frog freezes, it dehydrates its cells so the ice crystals end up forming between the cells and between the tissue layers.”
Insects, a handful of amphibians and fewer reptiles have the ability to survive freezing, Hokit said. Some attempt to avoid freezing by pumping their bodies full of natural antifreeze, like glucose.
The frog’s ability to manipulate its sugar metabolism is now of scientific interest.
“This frog may have a lot to teach us about how to control diabetes,” Hokit said. “There are many researchers studying this and other amphibians, trying to determine how it can flood its body full of glucose and not suffer the ill effects of that, which we see in humans.”