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Tadpoles Helping Develop Skin Cancer Drugs

Posted: February 2, 2009

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The species Xenopus Laevis (South African clawed frog) is more closely related to humans than one might expect. It only diverged from man 360 million years ago and has the same organs, molecules and physiology. This means that the same mechanisms are involved in causing cancer in both Xenopus tadpoles and humans. Until the 1960s, Xenopus Laevis frogs were used as the main human pregnancy test. A woman's urine sample was injected into a live frog. If the urine contained the hCG (human chrionic gonadotropin) hormone, the frog would lay eggs within 24 hours, indicating that the woman was pregnant.

Journal reference: Grant Wheeler et al., A chemical genomic approach identifies matrix metallaoproteinases as playing an essential and specific role in Xenopus melanophore migration. Chemistry & Biology, online January 29, 2009; in print January 30.

Adapted from materials provided by University of East Anglia.

ScienceDaily, January 31, 2009