Riding the Lizard

Gila MonsterFor a few weeks now, I've been injecting a drug called Byetta to help control my diabetes. It was developed when a drug researcher noticed the similarity of the molecular structure of gila monster venom to a blood sugar regulation hormone. Turns out that when a gila monster chews his venom-soaked saliva into his victim (they don't have fangs), it increases insulin production and that's what kills its prey. But under controlled dosages, gila monster venom can actually help regulate insulin production in diabetics.

Not only that, almost all previous diabetes drugs induce weight gain in those who take them. Not Byetta. It decreases appetite and creates a feeling of fullness, or 'satiety'. Diabetics who inject Byetta invariably lose weight.

In other words, lizard spit is the best diabetes medicine there is. Who knew?

I've always been an armchair environmentalist. I drive an economical 4-cylinder car, and hate SUVs. I recycle when it's convenient, and occasionally toss a few bucks at an environmental organization. But this has really got me thinking. Gila monsters only live in the American Southwest. There are so few of them left that they're on the 'protected' list. (They're not 'endangered', at least not yet.) What if there were no gila monsters? Where would I be then?

What if the desert lizard, or rain forest flower, or ocean coral that holds the cure to a disease that you are going to get next year is being driven into extinction right now?

It could happen to you. Just let that thought rattle around in your head for awhile. After all, it almost happened to me.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings

One Comment on “Riding the Lizard”

  1. Becca Says:

    Uncle Mark – Byetta is not acutally made from lizard spit, but it does use the same principle. No lizards are acutally used in the production process. It is modeled after it. I spoke at length with the drug rep, and she gave me her card and told me that you could call her if you had any questions, but you know how good my organizational skills are? I lost the card. So, when she comes in next time, I’ll snag another one.
    Love you!


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