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.


Now Wii can all be fit!

The Wii Fit has been released in Japan and will hopefully be released in the Middle East in coming months. Nintendo, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is pretty brilliant when it comes to adapting games for practical purposes. Now with the Wii Fit, gamers can develop core body strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity in their own home and have a good time while doing it. The reason I think this is relevant is because in the Middle East, where gaming is very popular, people are gaining weight and acquiring type 2 diabetes at phenomenal rates. The Wii makes you move, is fun for all ages and can be played in your living room. All we need now is for Ninetendo to invent a game that teaches you to eat healthy…

There is a good review of the device at this blog:


Consuming your weight in sugar

Get this! The December issue of Medical Times Middle East reported that the recent FDI Annual World Dental Congress, held in Dubai revealed statistics comparing sugar consumption patterns worldwide. At 50kg per person per year, the UAE consumes more than double the average of developed countries. In developing nations, individuals consume less than 5kg of sugar a year.

50kg!!!! That’s 50 bags of sugar a year. No wonder there is such a problem with type 2 diabetes in the UAE. Made me think about how much sugar is in the things we eat….

These numbers are alarming!

12 oz. Juice Grams of Sugar
Apple 41
Grape 54
Grapefruit 27
Orange 38
Tomato 8
Source: esha Food Processor
Food Serving Size Grams of Sugars
Apple (with peel) 1, large 25.44
apple bran muffin (McDonald’s) 1 21
Applesauce, sweetened 1 cup 47.66
Apricots 1 3.05
Banana 1, medium 21.30
Blueberries 1/2 cup 8.27
Butterfinger candy 2.16 oz. 30
chocolate cake with icing 1 piece 31
chocolate chips 12 cup 43
Chocolate drink (Ensure) 8 oz. 22
chocolate milk 8 oz. 20
Coca-Cola 12 oz. can 39
diet drink (Ultra Slim-Fast) 12 oz. 36
Dried apricots 1/2 cup 33.44
frozen yogurt, soft serve 1 cup 32
fruit leather 1 roll 9
Grapes 1 cup 27.52
gum 1 stick 2
Ice cream 8 oz. (1/2 pint) 45
Ice cream Blizzard 1 88
Instant Breakfast 1 package 28
Jell-O pudding snack 1 23
Jell-O snack 1 18
Kool-Aid 12 oz. 38
M&M’s 15 oz. package 82
maple syrup 3 oz. 30
McD’s chocolate shake 16 oz. 58
Pear 1, medium 17.50
Raisins 1 box (1.5 oz.) 32.29
Raspberries 1/2 cup 5.84
Strawberries 1/2 cup 4.06
white sugar 2 packets 16
Source: esha Food Processor. Impact score by DesMaisons

Nightline Podcast

Here is the link to the podcast from Dubai Eye’s Nightline with James Piecowye. If you missed the show, take a listen. This is important information that you need to know about managing and preventing diabetes.