A Lizard’s Saliva Inspires a New Med

| Jul 1, 2005

I love the music of Paul Simon. In his song “Senorita With a Necklace of Tears” he writes, “. . . There is a frog in South America, whose venom is a cure . . . more powerful than morphine and soothing as the rain, a frog in South America has the antidote for pain . . .” I always liked that lyric and have often wondered if it actually is true.

What we do know, however, is that there is a lizard native to the southwestern United States whose saliva (in a synthetic form)— although not a cure—is a promising new remedy for people with type 2 diabetes.

Lizard Spit and Type 2 Control

Byetta (exenatide) injection was given FDA approval in late April 2005 and is our cover story. I recall reading research abstracts from years back that reported on a potential type 2 treatment derived from a lizard’s saliva. These reports always stopped me in my tracks. This huge reptile eats only a few times per year, and its spit contains something called exendin-4, which stimulates insulin secretion from the pancreas only when blood glucose is high.

I would like to hear from any of our type 2 readers who try Byetta in the coming months. Please write and tell me about your experience with this new medication. In the meantime, see our article (“Byetta Now Available for Type 2s”).

Meters for the 21st Century

David Mendosa is a respected authority on diabetes, and we are privileged to have him as our meter columnist. This month, David recounts how far we have come with blood glucose monitoring in his article “Welcome to the World of 21st Century Meters.”

I think the meters we have today are fantastic. I really like the five-second tests and the accuracy achieved in a portable lab device, and I have no problem lancing my fingers after all these years. But I am keeping my expectations low for a noninvasive meter in the near future. I believe testing by extracting a drop of blood will be the gold standard for many years to come. When I use that number to dose my insulin, I don’t want any mistakes. I want a number that is as accurate as possible with a portable device.

See David's article and our comprehensive meter resource chart.


Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer has written a useful article on stress management for people with diabetes . Simply having diabetes can be highly stressful, so we all need to seriously consider her suggestions for managing our daily stress.

I find that my best method of stress management is regular physical exercise. When I’ve done my exercise for the day, I feel relaxed. When I exercise, my body feels great, and I get an extra boost seeing how exercise helps keep my BGs in control. Knowing I have “done the deed” for the day gives me a real sense of well-being and keeps me from feeling guilty for skipping my workout.

Here’s hoping you get lots of relaxation this summer!

Scott King
Type 1, 30 years (and counting)

Please send me your comments and suggestions via e-mail through our Web site.

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