Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Platypus Venom Spurs Diabetes Treatment

Credit: 169169/Adobe

Credit: 169169/Adobe

By Natasha Bradley

Radical evolutionary changes in a hormone involved in glucose control might lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes derived from platypus venom.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Diabetes is one of the biggest health burdens the world is currently facing. About 85% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, which develops if the pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin or the body becomes resistant to insulin’s effects.

Early stages of type 2 diabetes management typically involve lifestyle and diet changes. As the disease progresses, oral medication such as metformin or exenatide are recommended, and eventually insulin injections may be necessary.

We have found a new potential treatment option for type 2 diabetes in a place you might least expect: platypus venom. How could something in venom help people with diabetes? To understand that you might first need some background information.

To function properly, our body needs to maintain a certain level of glucose in our blood. To achieve this, glucose levels are tightly controlled by two major hormones called insulin and glucagon. After we eat a meal, glucose diffuses into the bloodstream, causing an increase in blood sugar concentration (especially if you had that extra bit of chocolate). This triggers the release of insulin, which tells the liver, as well as muscle and fat cells, to absorb glucose from the blood. If there is too much glucose available, insulin will also signal to the liver to convert it to glycogen for energy storage. This will reduce glucose levels to within their...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.