Another random zoo beast (a theme for today)…this time one of Bristol Zoo’s Gila Monsters. I really love these handsome fellows, and one has to be impressed if for no other reason than they are one of the two venomous lizards. The other is the Beaded lizard (which I think is very similar to the handsome Gila but a bit bigger).
While having a quick look at Wikipedia for anything useful I discovered this
In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug exenatide (marketed as Byetta) for the management of type 2 diabetes. It is a synthetic version of a protein, exendin-4, derived from the Gila monster’s saliva. In a three-year study with people with type 2 diabetes, exenatide led to healthy sustained glucose levels and progressive weight loss. The effectiveness is because the lizard protein is about 50% identical to glucagon-like peptide-1 analog (GLP-1), a hormone released from the human digestive tract that helps to regulate insulin and glucagon. The lizard protein remains effective much longer than the human hormone, helping diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under control. Exenatide slows the emptying of the stomach and causes a decrease in appetite, contributing to weight loss. The saliva of the Gila monster contains many chemicals which can be deadly. One of these has been shown to affect memory. Several companies have been researching the abilities of this chemical to help memory loss due to various diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and ADHD. Gilatide, derived from exendin-4, has been shown to dramatically heighten memory in a study with mice. Gilatide is likely to be researched further to provide help to Alzheimer’s patients
Given that in my day job (working in a pharmacy) has involved dealing with prescriptions for Exenatide for the last few years…I had no idea that it was derived from the venom of my favorite lizard!
Thanks for looking!