Who would have ever thought that the future of treating diabetes might be tied to a web-footed, duck-billed mammal? And not only that, but it’s venom. That’s right, we’re talking about the platypus.
They may not look like the fiercest animals, but when the goofy-looking platypus wrestles its female crush to the ground with a kick-stab approach, the spurs on its hind legs release a certain type of venom with a special hormone called GLP-1. It’s found in humans and other animals, but in platypuses, it degrades more slowly – this means the release of insulin lasts much longer.
“This is an amazing example of how millions of years of evolution can shape molecules and optimise their function,” says lead researcher Frank Gutzner of the University of Adelaide.
More research is still needed to be done if the drug could ever truly lead to a human treatment, but the finding is certainly an amazing start!