You must have heard about diabetes, the scary incurable disease that alters the quality of life for its patients who also risk death and other extreme situations like limb amputation. Nobody wants it and nobody should.
However, despite the infamous status of type 2 diabetes, Doctors have found some way to treat Type 2 diabetes with the venom of a lizard known as the Gila Monster - Its venom contains a compound called Exendin 4, which helps diabetics stay healthy by maintaining their blood sugar level.
According to research conducted by the World Economic Forum, they ascertained that scientists have been using the venom of the Gila Monster to treat diabetes because its blood sugar always stays stable despite only eating three times a day.
Doctors have since synthesized drugs from the Gila Monster’s venom to help diabetics produce insulin and lose weight. One of such drugs is the Byetta, an incretin mimetic, a hormone and an insulin synthesizer that according to Med Page Today;
Indeed, the drug was approved by the FDA on April 29, 2005, but it has to be used with other oral drugs like Metformin and injections have to be taken twice a day.
This adds more feather to the concept of various venom strains being used to treat chronic diseases.
But then, what is type 2 diabetes?
Ordinarily, diabetes is majorly a life-long disease that affects the way your body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood.
Diabetes type 2 occurs when the insulin produced by the body is not well utilized by the cells. As a result, the pancreas tries to produce more insulin as a coping mechanism but ends up producing excessing insulin which then leaks into the blood.
While some cases are caused by genetic issues, weight issues, wrong metabolism, excessive glucose in the liver, incoherent cellular communication, terrible sleep patterns, smoking, lack of exercise and so forth.
Some medical conditions like prediabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and high blood pressure also risk factors.
Some of the symptoms of diabetes type 2 are; Being very thirsty, Peeing a lot, Blurry vision, Being irritable, Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, Feeling worn out, Wounds that don’t heal, Yeast infections that keep coming back and so forth.
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Treatment and risk factors
Since it is a life-long disease, the doctors have been treating with the following mechanisms; Take your diabetes medications or insulin on time, Check your blood glucose, eat right, and don’t skip meals, see your doctor regularly to check for early signs of trouble, dietary changes, herbal treatment and so forth.
The reason for these treatments is simple, and it is so people avoid the risks of damages to vital organs like the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves, or trouble with digestion, funny feeling in your feet, inadequate sexual response, terrible healing of wounds and pregnancy risks.
An estimated 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year in Nigeria.
Due to the seriousness and chronic nature of diabetes type 2, doctors have attempted several means to cure the disease, but have been unsuccessful at it. Nonetheless, they have found a very unorthodox, yet very effective management mechanism.
It is the species of lizard known as the Gila Monster or Heloderma suspectum, a species of venomous lizard native to Northwestern America and Sonora, Mexico. While it is venomous, it is also very slow and big at about two-feet long.
Its venom, while a neurotoxin is not as vicious or toxic as that of snakes that kill people fast. While it can affect the body negatively, an adult human will completely heal from its venom or bite.
Unlike snakes too, the venom of a Gila Monster is modified in its lower jaw and not the upper jaw.
How venoms are being used to treat chronic diseases
While venoms are still neurotoxins and some are still fatal to the human body, evolution and research have turned venom into powerful biochemical weapons that can attack the key areas of the body with precision without damaging living tissue.
The venom of Sun Anenom prevents inflammation in auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis without suppressing the immune system like other drugs, chronic snail venom treats chronic pain without side effects, and giant deathstalker scorpion binds brain cancer cells.
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According to World Economic Forum, six drugs from animal venom are already on sale in the US. More than 15, 000 animal venom produce venom on earth. Scientists have only used 2% of that number and since human beings have wiped out an astounding 60% of wildlife over the past 50 years, we are at risk of losing more cures.