Tim Cole
Phone: 512-83-SNAKE
Email: timcole@austinreptileservice.net
Georgetown, Texas

New Treatment For Diabetes

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Just two months ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new kind of diabetes drug that has the potential of helping Type 2 diabetics lower sugar levels and lose weight.

If that's not unique enough, consider where it comes from.

"This is a four year old gila monster. See right in there, that's where their venom glands are, and the venom's also present in their saliva," Austin Reptile Service Herpetologist Tim Cole said.

Along with believe it or not, a hormone that's helping transform treatment and lives of Type 2 Diabetics like one Austinite.

"With diabetes, I'm always fighting losing weight, and I would exercise everyday," Type 2 Diabetic Rachel Saavedra said. "And I would eat right, eat healthy. It was frustrating."

Enter the newly approved injectable drug exenatide or byetta.

"One pen lasts one month before breakfast and supper," Dr. Tom Blevins with Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology said. "It's a synthetic from a compound found in the saliva or venom in a gila monster."

"When Dr. Blevins first told me about it, I laughed," Saavedra said.

Then in June, she tried it.

"I'm doing the same regimen, my walking, eating the same, but my sugars are fine, and I feel good, and I'm losing weight," Saavedra said.

"In our experience so far many people have lost weight. I don't think it will happen with everyone, but it does lower glucose sugar at the same time which is really important," Blevins said.

The same spit that helps gila monsters defend themselves also has properties that protect diabetics like increasing insulin production and a feeling of fullness while decreasing certain hormones and stomach activity.

"I think this is a nice advance," Blevins said.

"That's amazing to me," Saavedra said.

The reason she's totally reversed her opinion of the lizard she used to consider weird.

"I like him now. I like that little lizard. He's pretty cool," Saavedra said.

Blevins says results will vary from patient to patient and that the drug isn't for folks with stomach problems.

He also says some researchers believe the drug could help preserve cells that make insulin.

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