Venoms found in two iconic mammals endemic in Australia can be the key to treatments of type 2 diabetes, which affects 1.4 million Americans every year.
Humans and certain animals produce hormones that can potentially cure type 2 diabetes, but those hormones have high degradation and instability rate.
But the same hormone found in platypus and echidna, which are egg-laying mammals hold a different characteristic and may be more effective for type 2 diabetes treatments.
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Echidna Puggle (Taronga Zoo)
Scientists from University of Adelaide and Flinders University discovered that the venom of these two mammals contain GLP-1, a gut hormone responsible for releasing insulin to lower blood glucose levels. But this type found in these mammals is surprisingly a long-lasting version. A longer lasting hormone can extend the body's release of insulin and can better manage the proper blood sugar levels.
GLP-1 is typically found in the gut, but the scientists were surprised to find it present in these mammals' venom.
Platypuses fight against other males during the meeting season. They deliver the venom through spurs found in their hind legs.
"This tug of war between the different functions has resulted in dramatic changes in the GLP-1 system," said co-lead author Professor Briony Forbes, from Flinders University's School of Medicine.
Professor Frank Grutzner, co-lead author from the University of Adelaide's School of Biological Sciences and the Robinson Research Institute said, "This is an amazing example of how millions of years of evolution can shape molecules and optimise their function."
Grutzer added that further research is need on how they can convert the finding into treatments for humans.
The researchers published their findings on the study in Nature