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Platypus Venom: Treatment for Diabetes Found in an Unlikely Source

Dec 01, 2016 04:03 AM EST

Diabetes is one of the most common conditions across the United States at present. According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans suffer from a form of diabetes. This number is particularly startling considering how it makes up 9.3 percent of the country's total population.

Diabetes does not only affect those who have to live with it, but the disease has an impact on the economy as well. Research show that the total economic cost of diabetes, based on the combines cost of treatment and decreased activity, comes in at $245 billion.

Research aiming to find a cure for diabetes has long been ongoing. In fact, Australian researchers have recently published a study documenting the possibility of diabetes treatment from two of the country's most recognizable animals -- the platypus and the echidna.

According to professor Frank Grutzner, lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, hormones produced by the gut of platypus that regulates their insulin levels are also present in their venom.

Both humans and platypus secrete glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1. However, people with type 2 diabetes degrades faster than normal. This means that the hormone is not effective enough to maintain optimum blood sugar level balance.

"Our research team has discovered that monotremes - our iconic platypus and echidna - have evolved changes in the hormone GLP-1 that make it resistant to the rapid degradation normally seen in humans" quipped Grutzner as reported by Eureka Alert.

The research showed that GLP-1 in platypus and echidnas degrade slower than that of humans. Grutzner and his team are hopeful that their discovery would prove to be beneficial for type 2 diabetes treatment in humans. He however was quick to explain that there is a need to study how the discovery would be converted into viable treatment.

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