This health video looks into the new idea that the saliva from a lizard can help with diabetes.
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Jeniffer Mathews: The gila monster is a rare lizard with deadly venom in its saliva. That turns out to be a good thing for diabetics like Bill. Bill Caldwell: It's wild. Only in America. Jeniffer Mathews: Researchers have used the saliva to develop a new drug called exenatide. It's injected twice a day to help diabetics keep their blood sugar under control. John Buse: We think that the effect of the drug has something to do with the fact that this animal eats two, maybe three or four times a year. Jeniffer Mathews: A hormone in the lizard's saliva slows its metabolism between meals and keeps its blood sugar low when it does eat. It seems to have the same effect on patients with Type Two diabetes. Bill Caldwell: I did find that my numbers came down. I did find that the drug, the medication, could help me. Jeniffer Mathews: Like most patients in the studies, Bill also experienced modest weight loss. John Buse: That's pretty rare for a diabetes drug. Most diabetes drugs are actually associated with weight gain. Jeniffer Mathews: Good news since about 80% of Type Two diabetics are overweight. Researchers say exenatide could reduce the need for insulin in Type Two diabetics. John Buse: This is a remarkably effective drug. Jeniffer Mathews: And Bill doesn't care where it comes from. Bill Caldwell: Hey, whatever works, if it's tree bark or ants, if it works. Jeniffer Mathews: This is Jeniffer Mathews reporting.