A new diabetes drug called exenatide has performed well in a recent study into blood sugar control and the promotion of weight loss, and showed that combining it with the hormone insulin can offer more improved sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes than just insulin.
The study, carried out at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, revealed that the active ingredient in exenatide, which has the brand name of Byetta, was first found in the saliva of the Gila monster, a large lizard that lives in the Arizona desert in the US.
John Buse, lead author of the research, said “This study may be the best result ever for patients whose diabetes is inadequately controlled on a combination of pills and insulin. Until now, it was inconceivable that you could get such patients under excellent control with weight loss and no significant problems with hypoglycemia .”
It is hoped the new drug will work with Lantus, a formulation of insulin that is the most powerful diabetes drug, which is linked with weight gain and low blood sugar reactions that might limit the effectiveness of more intensive treatments. Exenatide, on the other hand, does not lead to low blood sugar and promotes weight loss.
Buse added “Because Byetta and Lantus have very different strengths, we thought that combining the two had the potential to give us the best of both. It is wonderful, when you guess right.”
The research was funded by an alliance of Eli Lilly and Company and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, who make Byetta.

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