Fun Fact Friday: May 15

Which animal has helped treat diabetes?

Which animal has helped treat diabetes?

Answer: Gila monsters!

In the mid-1900s, researchers discovered that a hormone in the venom of Gila monsters actually stimulates insulin production in humans. The hormone works similarly to GLP-1, which is found in the digestive tract of humans and regulates blood glucose.

The investigators licensed the discovery to a pharmaceutical company, and a synthetic version called exenatide was approved by the FDA in 2005 as an add-on to other diabetes drugs to avoid or postpone the use of insulin injections.


US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development. Diabetes drug from Gila monster venom; May 7, 2019. Accessed May 14, 2020.

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