astonishing metabolism of the Australian green-striped burrowing frog
is a source of inspiration in the treatment of people suffering muscle
and weight loss as a result of immobility and in the development of farm
In the arid summer season this frog buries itself in mud and remains
inactive for months inside a mucous-like cocoon it produces.
Dr. Nick Hudson of the CSIRO Livestock Industries research institution
states that the frog, Cyclorana alboguttata, undergoes no muscular
changes during aestivation, what may be referred to as summer dormancy.
Burying itself in mud during the summer season the frog remains motionless
Dr. Hudson describes the aim of the studies inspired by the frog as follows:
This little animal can remain buried in mud for
several months, completely inactive, and yet lose no muscle mass or
If we can understand how the frog does this, we may
be able to target specific genes, or develop new treatments, to enhance
muscle mass during the growth of livestock species, or to limit muscle
loss during times of nutritional deprivation, such as drought. (1)
In this way, treatments aimed at preventing muscle loss experienced by
astronauts, the bed-ridden or the elderly will be developed.
Human beings cannot long withstand immobility, and muscle wasting due
to immobility represents an obstacle to people in many ways. Dr. Hudson
describes the situation thus:
A person forced into similar inactivity, would
lose in excess of 90 per cent of their muscle strength. This is both
a health burden for global populations and a barrier to space exploration.
Dr. Hudson compares gene expression (the observable effect of genes)
in the green-striped frog and cattle. The researcher's objective is to
determine those genes that are active during aestivation and to identify
their counterparts in cattle for further study. It is estimated that this
system in the frog is linked to the intense production of antioxidants
within the muscle that inhibit the break-down of muscle protein.
Dr. Hudson states that the frog's body temperature surprisingly does
not drop during aestivation:
In aestivation, the frog can lower its metabolic
rate by about 90 per cent and - unlike animals undergoing hibernation
- it does this while it's still warm. (3)
He also adds that the genetic infrastructure of this ability may be defined
as the result of the three-year research project.
It may be that in the near future astronauts, bed-ridden patients and
the elderly will be freed from health problems caused by muscle wasting
thanks to these studies on the frog. But how did the frog, the source
of hope and inspiration for the overcoming of these significant health
problems, come by this astonishing system?
Could the frog have one day decided that it would be better to spend
the dry season dormant and thus have begun producing the mucous-like cocoon
that covers its skin? Could it then have tried burying itself and waiting
in the mud? After it emerged from the mud and reproduced, could its offspring
have carried on with this practice and the frog species thus have acquired
a new ability over the course of time? Of course, not. It is not possible
for any living thing to alter its physiology in accordance with its environment.
Such radical changes never take place in the event of an organism switching
from a watery environment to a dry one, or vice-versa. A frog lacking
the systems to make it possible for it to survive in the surrounding conditions
will immediately die.
On the other hand, this ability of the frog's is based on complex physiological
arrangements. These take place through the functioning of the genes in
the frog's DNA, in a manner many times more complex than that in the most
advanced circuitry developed by man. By switching themselves on and off
these genes regulate the frog's vital functions, and control the beginning
of the aestivation, the production of the secretion necessary for the
cocoon, and the end of the aestivation. It is totally impossible for this
network system, in which certain genes switch other genes on and off,
to have emerged as the result of a chance process. Indeed, it is impossible
for a single one of the genes that constitute the basis of this physiological
adjustment in the frog to have come into being by chance.
It is clear that the frog did not come into possession of this ability
through its own efforts or as the result of coincidences, and that it
was created, right from the beginning with these properties. There is
no doubt that it is Almighty God, sovereign over all things between the
heavens and the Earth, Who created the frog. He controls the metabolisms
of frogs and all other living things at all moments. In one verse of the
Qur'an, it is stated:
"I have put my trust in God, my Lord and your Lord.
There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock." (Qur'an,
muscle-in on 'wasting' process," EurekAlert, http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-06/ca-fmo062204.php