Byetta - medication from the gila monster

Byetta® originates from the gila monster

Byetta is the brand name of a diabetes drug called exenatide, a medication that is used to treat type 2 diabetes. Derived from a compound called exendin-4 found in the saliva of a Gila monster, the active ingredient of Byetta is 50% identical to a hormone normally found in the human gastrointestinal tract. This hormone, called Glucagon-like peptide-1 analog, or GLP-1, is an incretin released from the human gastrointestinal tract in response to a high diabetes blood sugar level.

Byetta, although similar to GLP-1, lasts longer in the body than the natural human hormone and therefore it has a more pronounced effect on the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone responsible for moving sugar from the blood into the tissues and is dysregulated in Diabetes.

Byetta not appropriate for Type 1

Although effective for diabetes management in Type 2 Diabetics, Byetta is not appropriate for Type 1 Diabetics. This is because Byetta causes the release of insulin from the pancreas in response to high blood sugar levels. In, type 1 diabetes however, the beta cells of the pancreas do not produce insulin. Byetta would have no effect on insulin production and would therefore be useless for Type 1 Diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, however, the beta cells of the pancreas are still functional and will respond to stimulation from Byetta. The problem in Type 2 Diabetes is insensitivity to insulin rather than the absence of insulin production.

Other effects of Byetta

Byetta has other effects besides stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas. Not only does it act as an incretin, but it also delays stomach emptying. This feature causes those who use it to experience a decrease in appetite and therefore a decrease in weight. This is beneficial for the management of diabetes and helps those using Byetta to achieve and maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Administered via injection

Byetta is given as a subcutaneous injection twice daily before meals. It is packaged as a prefilled pen that delivers the exact dose needed. It can be injected into the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm but injection sites should be rotated to prevent excessive skin irritation or infection.

All medications come with risks and Byetta is no exception. People may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, jitters, dizziness, headache, weakness, acidic stomach, and weight loss. Some serious but rare adverse effects may also occur. Kidney failure, fatal pancreatitis, and allergic reactions are possible.

Byetta can be used in conjunction with other medications such as metformin or insulin for the management of Type 2 Diabetes but it does not cure the disease. However, it is one of the most recent developments in the treatment of Diabetes and the first new drug of its class to be approved.

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