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Gila Monsters and Ozempic: The Surprising Link

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What do Gila monsters, Ozempic, exendin-4, Daniel Drucker, glucagon, and the weight loss drug Wegovy all have in common?

The connection is a decades long tale of scientific intuition, dogged pursuit of the truth and, not just a little bit of luck. Here’s the background:

The Gila monster is a venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is the only venomous lizard in the United States, and its bite can be fatal to humans. However, the Gila monster’s venom also contains a compound that has been used to develop a new class of drugs for treating diabetes and obesity.

The compound in question is called exendin-4. It is a hormone that is produced in the intestines of both humans and Gila monsters. Exendin-4 helps to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production and decreasing glucagon production. It also helps to suppress appetite.

In the early 1990s, a team of scientists led by Daniel Drucker at the University of Toronto was studying the effects of exendin-4 on blood sugar levels in mice. They found that exendin-4 was not only effective at lowering blood sugar, but it also caused the mice to lose weight.

This discovery led Drucker and his team to investigate the potential of exendin-4 as a treatment for obesity. In 2005, they published a study in the journal Nature showing that exendin-4 was effective at helping obese mice lose weight.

This study led to the development of a synthetic version of exendin-4 called semaglutide. Semaglutide is marketed under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy. Ozempic is approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is approved for the treatment of obesity.

Ozempic and Wegovy work by binding to the GLP-1 receptor. This receptor is found on cells in the pancreas and the brain. When semaglutide binds to the GLP-1 receptor, it signals the cells to produce more insulin and to decrease glucagon production. It also signals the brain to suppress appetite.

Ozempic and Wegovy are both effective at helping people lose weight. In clinical trials, people who took Ozempic or Wegovy lost an average of 15% of their body weight. This is significantly more weight loss than is typically achieved with other weight loss treatments.

Ozempic and Wegovy are generally well-tolerated. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. These side effects usually go away after a few weeks.

Ozempic and Wegovy are a new and effective treatment for obesity. They are safe and well-tolerated, and they can help people lose a significant amount of weight. If you are struggling with obesity, talk to your doctor about whether Ozempic or Wegovy is right for you.

In addition to the link between Gila monsters and Ozempic, there are a few other interesting facts about these fascinating creatures.

  • Gila monsters are ambush predators. They lie in wait for their prey, which typically consists of small mammals, birds, and lizards.
  • Gila monsters have a lifespan of up to 30 years.
  • They are the only venomous lizard in the United States that is not considered endangered.

So, the next time you see a Gila monster, you might want to think twice about sticking your hand out to it. But you can also be grateful for its venom, which has helped to develop a new and effective treatment for obesity.

Drafted with the assistance of Bard.

Published in Uncategorized


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