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Lizard Spit Drug Treats Type 2 Diabetes

Drug Derived From Gila Monster Saliva Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes

Treats Diabetes Without Weight Gain continued...

"What I think may be more interesting with this product, and we need more data to see it, is its impact of this drug on beta-cell number and beta-cell survival," Abrahamson says. "If it's shown to be able to prevent the further loss of beta cells, then the question I would ask is, do you begin to use this earlier on in the onset of diabetes, because we know that when diabetes is diagnosed on average, patients have lost over 50% of beta-cell function."

Good Blood Sugar Control

About 1,000 patients were enrolled in two studies of exenatide, in which patients received either a 10 microgram or 5 microgram dose in an injection twice a day or a harmless placebo injection on the same schedule.

Both studies involved people with type 2 diabetes who were unable to control their blood sugars despite receiving a maximal dose of the drug Glucophage. In the second study, the patients were also taking a different type of diabetes drug, called a sulfonylurea. Both studies ran for 30 weeks.

In the first study, people who received the 10 microgram dose of exenatide achieved a level of blood sugar control that met American Diabetes Association guidelines for adults with diabetes. People receiving the study drug also showed significant reductions in HbA1c (a measure of blood sugars) at week 30 compared with before week 1.

People who received the medication also lost weight during the study -- about 6 pounds in the 10 microgram group and about 3.5 pounds in the 5 microgram group. In contrast, patients on placebo lost less than 1 pound.

In the second study, involving 773 patients who had poor blood sugar control despite taking both Glucophage and a sulfonylurea, about a third of the people who took the 10 microgram dose had normal blood sugar levels at study end.

Side effects from the medication included nausea in about half of the patients. Dangerously low blood sugar levels as a result of the drug, a condition known as hypoglycemia, was infrequent in both studies.

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