A monster let loose in the Middle East to treat diabetics

Gila Monster

Ok well it isn’t a monster, but a new treatment derived from the venom of a Gila Monster, a large poisonous lizard, is now available in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. It is really quite interesting because the treatment, Byetta, has been available in the West for a long time now and it has already received rave reviews from people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.  It has only been released just recently in this region, which is a blessing given the high rates we’re seeing.

Byetta (Exenatide), mimics a hormone in the body that promotes the production of insulin and helps regulate blood sugars. It does so without the usual highs and lows you get from insulin. There is also a real benefit of weight-loss associated with Byetta, which is great because Type-2 diabetes go hand in hand. Here is an article from Gulf News on Byetta.

Artificial venom aids fight against diabetes in UAE

02/20/2008 01:12 AM | By Dina El Shammaa, Staff ReporterAbu Dhabi: A lizard’s venom helped to give birth to a new Type 2 diabetes drug, which is now available in the UAE.

The drug, Exenatide (Byetta), is an artificial version of the venom found in the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum).

The saliva of the two-feet long pink and black lizard, native to the US, contains a chemical exendin-4, similar to a human hormone to help regulate blood sugar.

Byetta has proven effective in the control of Type 2 diabetes in humans.

Scientists from drug companies Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals worked together to develop Exenatide, an artificial version of exendin-4 that can be injected into patients and stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin in response to raised blood sugar. It also influences digestion and appetite.

A significant effect of the drug is weight loss, which is a major benefit for Type 2 diabetes patients, who are often overweight.

It helps with glucose (blood sugar) management in several ways: It signals the pancreas to create additional insulin when glucose levels are too high; it regulates the liver so that it doesn’t produce unneeded glucose; and helps slow the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream.

According to Dr Eisa Al Mansouri, Director of the Drug Control Department, Ministry of Health, the combination of blood sugar regulation and weight loss give Byetta an additional punch in the battle against diabetes.

“Our aim is to make available the best treatments for patients in the UAE. We give high importance to all that relates to the diabetes field, as we know that diabetes is one of the major conditions threatening our community. Byetta is a new class of treatment for diabetes. We are one of the first countries in the Middle East to make Byetta available,” said Al Mansouri

Byetta has been available in the US since 2005. It is now offered in more than 23 countries and used by more than 700,000 diabetes patients worldwide.

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Inspired by Diabetes contest ends…let the judging begin!

January 31st marked the end of the regional art competition in the Middle East. Hundreds of submissions have come141.jpg141.jpg in from the three main countries, Lebanon, Egypt and the UAE. Most of the submissions were from children. There were paintings, drawings and some poetry as well. Thanks to everyone who submitted something. Now comes the fun part… judging.

As you might have read, Dubai musicians ABRI are lending their talents to judging the competition in the UAE. Other UAE judges include Saeed Shalash, Editor of Zahrat Al Khaleej, Rachael Brown from the Jam Jar (who are also providing some of the prizes) as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Emirates Diabetes Society.

In Lebanon, judges will include Ramze Khoury, local Lebanese rap artist, Lebanese painter, Bernard Renno who also owns the gallery Vestige d’Orient Atelier D’art and is the ‘Attachee Cultural of the General Consulate of Latvia/EU in Lebanon’. The Lebanese Endocrinolgy, Diabetes and Lipids Society and the Lebanese Diabetes Society will also judge the competition.

The Egypt entrants will be judged by Nahed Hamza, Deputy Chief Editor of Al Ahkbar and Nabil Shawky, a local artist. Other judges are currently being selected for Egypt.

While the regional comptition has closed, you can still enter the international competition, which has extended its deadline to March 31. Visit www.inspiredbydiabetes.com for more information.