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AUS Press: Lizard & diabetes breakthru

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Thu Sep 13 09:46:30 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

THE AGE (Melbourne, Australia) 13 September 07 Lizard leads to diabetes breakthrough (Kate Benson)
A binge-eating lizard that can spend up to four months digesting its food has sparked the invention of a ground-breaking diabetes drug.
The venomous Gila monster, a 60-centimetre lizard from Mexico and the US, eats about half its body weight only three or four times a year and has the ability to slow its digestion so it can survive for months on one meal.
Scientists found that Gila monsters have a hormone called exendin-4 in their salivary glands, which increases the production of insulin when blood sugar levels rise after a huge meal and slows the emptying of its stomach so its pancreas and liver do not become overloaded with the sudden intake of food.
They found that exendin-4 was similar to a hormone in the human digestive tract called GLP-1, only it lasts much longer.
The new drug, Byetta, is a synthetic replica of exendin-4 and will be used for type 2 diabetics who have not been able to control their illness using oral medications.
It has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration but is not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The drug was a breakthrough because it meant that people with type 2 could better control their weight, Kristen Hazelwood, an educator with Diabetes Australia, said yesterday.
"Most people with type 2 struggle with their weight because they must eat frequently, so we really applaud this drug. It has been so successful overseas and we've really been looking forward to it being available here," she said.
A diabetic who participated in the clinical trial, Noel Field, said the drug had become his last option after eight years battling to keep his illness and weight under control.
"It curbed my appetite and helped me lose weight. I feel like I have more energy and generally have a better outlook on life," he said.
The discovery won't have much effect on the Gila monster, however, which is facing extinction from illegal hunting and loss of habitat.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/lizard-leads-to-diabetes-breakthrough/2007/09/12/1189276809737.html?s_cid=rss_news


   

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