Tarantula venom could offer a promising new treatment option for type 2 diabetes, according to research by a Northern Ireland academic.
Molecules found in the venom reduced blood sugar levels and decreased food intake in mice. The early-stage research, funded by Diabetes UK, will be presented today at a Diabetes UK conference.
Diabetes affects 4.8m people in the UK – around 1 million have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
The team of researchers, led by Professor Nigel Irwin at Ulster University, previously uncovered the venom of the Mexican blonde tarantula can increase insulin production and lower blood sugar levels, but why this happens has not been clear until now.
The new findings, by Aimee Coulter Parkhill, a PhD student at Ulster University, have pinpointed that a specific molecule could hold the key.
Aimee said: “Tarantula venom contains millions of biologically active molecules that may have therapeutic potential.
"This research highlights one specific molecule from the venom of the Mexican Blonde tarantula which shows promise in treating diabetes. We are excited to follow up on our pilot studies to understand how (the molecule) could in future help people living with type 2 diabetes.”