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Lizard Spit Roundup

May 25, 2012

A chemical in Gila monster venom suppresses appetite in rats.



Healthy eating thanks to venomous reptiles. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A compound derived from the Gila monster’s venomous spit may help suppress appetite. Even better, it does it without killing you. The compound is called exendin-4, and a drug based on it is already used to control blood sugar. Now, Swedish scientists report in the Journal of Neuroscience that it reduces food craving in rats. In addition, they found the drug works in the reward regions of the brain, which also control addictive behaviors. So the drug may have potential as a treatment not only for obsessive eating, but for other cravings as well.

In other news, UCLA researchers report in the Journal of Physiology that rats on a high sugar diet had more trouble navigating mazes than rats on normal diets. They suspect that high levels of insulin the body produces to handle sugar harms brain cells.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Poisonous Gila monster venom might be the last place you'd think to look for a treatment for overeating. (Jupiter Images)