Platypus Venom Could Cure Diabetes

Posted: Nov 30 2016, 11:54am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Platypus Venom Could Cure Diabetes
A platypus. The same hormone produced in the gut of the platypus to regulate blood glucose is also produced in their venom, researchers have found -- and that hormone could be used in possible type 2 diabetes treatments.
  • The Poison from a Platypus could Cure Diabetes

Apparently, the poison from the gland of a platypus could cure diabetes in the future.

Australian researchers have found insulin regulation in two of the most common Aussie animals. These are the platypus and the echidna. This research could pave the way for a treatment of type 2 diabetes.

The findings were published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

The hormone produced in the gut of the platypus to regulate blood glucose is also present in its venom. It was a glucagon-like peptide termed GLP-1. This is normally produced in the gut of both humans and animals.

This stimulates insulin which lowers blood sugar. However, there is a hitch. GLP-1 degrades within minutes of its action. In type 2 patients, the trigger-like effect of GLP-1 is not enough to regulate blood sugar levels.

Therefore medicine that contains a longer-lasting form of the hormone is needed. Monotremes such as the platypus and the echidna have evolved with the times so that the GLP-1 in their bodies does not degrade so easily with duration. There is in fact a warfare between the GLP-1 in the gut and the one found in the venom of the platypus.

The platypus produces a strong venom which comes in handy during the mating season to ward off other males in the fight for females. Thus monotemes show a much more stable form of GLP-1.

The process has millions of years of evolution behind it. Diabetes treatment in the future may use this know-how and employ it in its repertoire of medical prophalyctics. GLP-1 has been found in the poison of echidnas too.

However, while the platypus has spurs on its back limbs, the echidna does not have any such features. This is all a very exhilarating finding and it will come in handy in the times which are yet to come in diabetes treatment.

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