Platypus venom could pave the way for new treatments for type 2 diabetes, say Australian researchers.
The males of the extraordinary semi-aquatic mammal – one of the only kind to lay eggs – have venomous spurs on the heels of their hind feet.
The poison is used to ward off adversaries.
But scientists at the University of Adelaide have discovered it contains a hormone that could help treat diabetes.
Known as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), it is also found in humans and other animals, where it promotes insulin release, lowering blood glucose levels. But it normally degrades very quickly.
Not for the duck-billed bottom feeders though. Or for echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters – another iconic Australian species found to carry the unusual hormone.
Both produce a long-lasting form of it, offering the tantalising prospect of creating something similar for human diabetes sufferers.
Lead researcher Prof Frank Grutzer told the BBC’s Greg Dunlop why the researchers had …