Do we need to think outside of the box for future diabetes treatments?

by Mark Benson on September 20, 2012

Do we need to think outside of the box for future diabetes treatments?

Well there is no doubt that diabetes, especially diabetes type II, will become more commonplace in the years ahead there is also no doubt that there appear to be potential treatments and possible cures out there. One such area which has been of great interest to scientists and researchers over the years is that of snake venom and the various toxins associated with it. This may sound like a very strange path to take with regards to a potential treatment for diabetes and a long-term cure but there is some sense in the madness.

Thinking outside the box

There are many species around the world which have very specific characteristics whether this is in their defensive mechanisms or their attack mechanisms. Snakes and their venom are perhaps one of the more eye-catching elements of the natural world but scientists have found out that many of these potentially harmful toxins, which can kill or disabled prey in an instant, often begin life as harmless compounds which have been found to do other specific tasks around the body.

It is this particular element which many scientists believe does open the various opportunities for new drugs and new treatments in the future. While we are focusing upon the potential for a treatment for diabetes type II it could in theory be extended to a whole array of different medical conditions right across the board.

Snake venom

If we take a step back and look at the wider picture with regards to snake venom and the particular impact this can have upon the internal workings of the body of a prey we can then begin to understand how it could help in the future. It is well known that snake venom toxins, in their most deadly form, target specific physiological pathways to disarm and sometimes kill their prey. This is exactly what new drugs and new treatments are created to do and if scientists are able to unlock the way in which snake toxins carry out their specific tasks then the potential is there to create wide ranging answers to medical conditions.

The obvious problem with snake venom in this most lethal form is the fact that it could well be deadly if it enters the human body. The idea therefore is to take a step back in time and effectively disarm the most deadly element of these toxins to take them back to their more natural form of harmless compounds. If scientists can then use these harmless compounds to attack specific pathways within the body and potentially block or disarm potential medical conditions then the prospects for the future of medical research and medical analysis could be very exciting indeed.

What specific targets does snake venom attack?

In layman’s terms snake venom is snake venom which effectively kills or disarms a prey to allow the snake, or even venomous lizard, to do whatever it wishes with the motionless body. However, scientists have already confirmed that specific types of venom can attack such actions as nerve cell signalling or blood clotting in their prey which can render them motionless, harmless or even kill them off.

As we touched on above, learning how to adapt the way in which venom attacks specific pathways in the body could not only lead to new drugs and new treatments but also new delivery systems. Can you imagine creating a specific drug which would attack compounds in the body which are effectively reducing the ability to control blood glucose levels and introducing diabetes to the sufferer?

How far away are these state-of-the-art drugs?

While there is no doubt that great progress has been made with regards to snake venom, and indeed the venom from poisonous lizards, the truth is that successful treatments based upon these compounds may well be some years away. Let’s not forget that we are dealing with some of the most toxic and the most poisonous compounds known to living man in the shape of venom which if treated incorrectly could cause severe allergic reactions or worse in humans or test guinea pigs.

It is the very fact that the specific venoms are able to target specific activities within the body which is of most interest to scientists as is the fact that many of these very harmful toxins can be effectively downgraded to harmless compounds. Quite how these compounds have over the years created some of the most lethal venoms in the world is something of a mystery because scientists also believe there is the ability to backtrack these venoms into their original compound structure.

Is thinking outside the box the key to the future?

While many researchers seem to focus upon diets, everyday living and exercise, all of which are very important elements relating to the condition of type II diabetes, perhaps now is the time to look and think outside of the box. Snake venom is one of many new elements that are under consideration as a potential basis for new treatments and new drug delivery systems which only a few years ago would have been deemed as “crazy” by many people.

We often forget that the natural world and the animal world contain an array of elements of which we have no idea how they are created or indeed how they have developed over the years. We understand but a fraction of the billions of compounds evident in the world today while we continue to spend millions if not billions of pounds on new treatments.

Conclusion

If you take a step back and consider the potential for snake venom, and reptile venom, to be used as the basis for a potential treatment for various medical conditions it is not beyond the realms of possibility. A drug is specifically a treatment which targets one or a number of individual activities within the body and elements of the body to create an end result. Is this not exactly what poisonous venom does when injected into a prey?


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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