Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have determined that a drug made from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard (pictured above) is able to reduce the craving for food in experimental rats.
The Gila monster lizard or Heloderma Suspectum is the largest lizard found in North America.
A synthetic version of this natural substance called exendrin-4 is currently available to treat patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. The pharmaceutical preparation known as Exenatide is used to assist patients to control their blood sugar. However, up until now the link between exendrin-4 and food cravings was undetected.
Exencrin-4 influences reward and motivation
The researchers noticed that the natural substance, exendrin-4 possesses these additional unexpected benefits. They were able to show that rats that are administered the substance demonstrate a significant decrease in their food cravings. Exendrin-4 affects the part of the brain associated with reward and motivation.
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The study is published in the April 4th edition of the Journal of Neuroscience. The researchers were able to demonstrate that exendrin-4 works by impacting the mesolimbic reward system in the rats, and induces an anorexic condition in which food including highly desirable sweetened chocolate pellets no longer influences the behaviour of the rats. Prior to an injection of exendrin-4, the rats showed an obvious preference for an environment in which the favored sweetened food was available. The rats were also extremely motivated to work hard in order to achieve their preferred food before treatment. This process was also inhibited due to the action of the exendrin-4 on the rat’s brain circuitry affecting motivation and reward.
The findings of the researchers are significant not only for potential treatments to prevent over eating and obesity, but also to possibly curb cravings for alcohol and/or drugs. It is hoped that exedrin-4 may provide the means for affected individuals to reduce cravings and take back control of their lives.
Source: Medical News Today