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'Lizard drug' Byetta now available

A new treatment for Type 2 diabetes based on a hormone discovered in the Gila lizard is now available in the UK.

Byetta (Exenatide) is a synthetic copy of the hormone found in the Gila lizard (pictured) that can be used as an add-on treatment for people with Type 2 diabetes. It works in three different ways:

  1. It helps the body to produce more insulin when it is needed.
  2. It reduces the amount of glucose being produced by the liver when it is not needed.
  3. It reduces the rate at which the stomach digests foods and empties. This means that the rate at which glucose from food is released into the blood is reduced.

“Managing blood glucose levels, along with blood pressure levels, is central to reducing the risk of heart attacks, blindness, strokes, kidney disease and amputations in people with Type 2 diabetes," said Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.

“This is an exciting time, as any new drug that helps people with Type 2 diabetes and is safe and effective is to be welcomed. New treatments provide more options to ensure the most effective treatment for any individual.”

Byetta (Exenatide) is one of the first in a new class of drug to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels. Although it is injected, it is not an insulin. It must be injected twice daily and has been shown to shown to reduce blood glucose levels and may also help weight management. It is used in combination with metformin, and/or sulphonylurea tablets.

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