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Drugs from gila monster lizard saliva reduces cravings for chocolate and ordinary food

Date:
May 15, 2012
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
A drug made from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard is effective in reducing the craving for food. Researchers have tested the drug on rats, who after treatment ceased their cravings for both food and chocolate.

A drug made from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard is effective in reducing the craving for ordinary food and also chocolate.
Credit: Rusty Dodson / Fotolia

A drug made from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard is effective in reducing the craving for food. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, have tested the drug on rats, who after treatment ceased their cravings for ordinary food and also chocolate.

An increasing number of patients suffering from type 2 diabetes are offered a pharmaceutical preparation called Exenatide, which helps them to control their blood sugar. The drug is a synthetic version of a natural substance called exendin-4, which is obtained from a rather unusual source -- the saliva of the Gila monster lizard (Heloderma suspectum), North America's largest lizard.

Unexpected effect

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, have now found an entirely new and unexpected effect of the lizard substance.

Reduces cravings for food

In a study with rats published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Assistant Professor Karolina Skibicka and her colleagues show that exendin-4 effectively reduces the cravings for food.

"This is both unknown and quite unexpected effect," comments an enthusiastic Karolina Skibicka: "Our decision to eat is linked to the same mechanisms in the brain which control addictive behaviours. We have shown that exendin-4 affects the reward and motivation regions of the brain."

Significant findings

The implications of the findings are significant" states Suzanne Dickson, Professor of Physiology at the Sahlgrenska Academy: "Most dieting fails because we are obsessed with the desire to eat, especially tempting foods like sweets. As exendin-4 suppresses the cravings for food, it can help obese people to take control of their weight," suggests Professor Dickson.

Treatment for eating disorders

Research on exendin-4 also gives hope for new ways to treat diseases related to eating disorders, for example, compulsive overeating.

Another hypothesis for the Gothenburg researchers' continuing studies is that exendin-4 may be used to reduce the craving for alcohol.

"It is the same brain regions which are involved in food cravings and alcohol cravings, so it would be very interesting to test whether exendin-4 also reduces the cravings for alcohol," suggests Assistant Professor Skibicka.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Suzanne L. Dickson, Rozita H. Shirazi, Caroline Hansson, Filip Bergquist, Hans Nissbrandt, and Karolina P. Skibicka. The Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP-1) Analogue, Exendin-4 Decreases the Rewarding Value of Food: A New Role for the Mesolimbic GLP-1 Receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, April 4, 2012 DOI: 10.1523/%u200BJNEUROSCI.6326-11.2012

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Drugs from gila monster lizard saliva reduces cravings for chocolate and ordinary food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515165405.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2012, May 15). Drugs from gila monster lizard saliva reduces cravings for chocolate and ordinary food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515165405.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Drugs from gila monster lizard saliva reduces cravings for chocolate and ordinary food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120515165405.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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