Tarantula therapy: Northern Eire staff discover ally in tackling diabetes

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Tarantula venom could offer a promising new treatment option for type 2 diabetes, according to research by a Northern Irish scientist.

Molecules found in the venom lowered blood sugar levels and food intake in mice. Early-stage research funded by Diabetes UK will be presented at a Diabetes UK conference today.

Diabetes affects 4.8 million people in the UK – around 1 million have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

The research team, led by Professor Nigel Irwin from the University of Ulster, previously found that the venom of the Mexican blonde tarantula can increase insulin production and lower blood sugar levels. It is not yet clear why this is happening.

The new findings from Aimee Coulter Parkhill, a PhD student at Ulster University, have shown that a particular molecule could hold the key.

Aimee said: “Tarantula venom contains millions of biologically active molecules that have potential therapeutic potential.

“”This research sheds light on a specific molecule found in the venom of the Mexican blonde tarantula that shows promise in the treatment of diabetes. We look forward to following up our pilot studies to understand how (the molecule) can help people with type 2 diabetes in the future. “

Belfast Telegraph