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Published:August 4th, 2006 15:39 EST
New Drug For Diabetes Shows Weight Loss Promise

New Drug For Diabetes Shows Weight Loss Promise

By Lonny Stewart

A new prescription drug is giving hope to millions of obese Americans who are having difficulty losing weight using diet and exercise alone.

Exenatide, marketed as Byetta, was discovered when researchers were studying the American Gila Monster`s ability to go long periods between meals. In the Gila Monster`s saliva, they noticed an amino acid similar to Exenatide that appeared to have the observed effect of controlled blood sugar. When scientists noticed that Exenatide had nearly the same structure, they started pursuing a medicinal use for the drug.

Byetta was eventually developed for the control of blood sugar in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Byetta works like other prescription drugs for Diabetes, but it differs in one key respect: it actually helps your body produce more of its own insulin to decrease blood sugar levels after eating.

However, unlike other contemporary drugs such as Metformin, Byetta has had a surprising side-effect for overweight individuals: significant weight loss. Nearly all patients with excess weight have experienced Byetta`s benefit. Reports of up to 70% of excess weight can be lost on the drug while maintaining diet and exercise. For people with a significant amount of pounds to lose, such as new user Laura Leidholdt, the drug is seen as a significant breakthrough in the road to weight loss. I like the drug, " she said. I think it`s highly effective. It curbs my appetite and makes me desire food less. I`ve lost about nine pounds so far. "

Byetta is administered through injections, twice daily. As with any prescription drug, there is a risk of side effects. The most common effect is mild nausea, which may explain part of the reason Byetta works so well. The nausea I experience definitely deters me from wanting to eat. It`s a powerful side effect, " Leidholdt said.

Currently, Byetta is only available for people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but human testing is currently in Phase III for people with generalized metabolic disorder, with a possible release date of 1-2 years. The drug would be able to treat people with this metabolic disorder, which encompasses insulin resistance and inability to control appetite. Almost all overweight people have this affliction, so the possibility of the drug`s use for millions of patients is apparent. In fact, since Byetta was introduced in early 2005, there has been a nearly exponential surge in popularity amongst diabetics in America. The increased recognition has resulted in shortages in several areas, with many pharmacies having to request backordered stock.

Byetta may be the definitive answer that America has been searching for in its quest to find an effective, low-risk drug that can help its citizens who suffer from obesity.