Venom of Heloderma suspectum, known as the Gila monster, has been of interest for drug development. Exendin-4 was identified and found to bind glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor and is used in the treatment of diabetes. GLP-1 receptors are also found in the brain and because of this, exendin-4 has been studied for potential neuroprotective effects. It is currently being studied to treat this neurologic disorder?
Exendin-4 is being studied for the treatment of parkinsons disease. In fact, in a small study of 45 patients with parkinsons disease, the administration of twice daily exendin-4 resulted in improvement in movement skills. (de Oliveira Amaral H et al. Animal venoms: therapeutic tools for tackling Parkinson’s disease. Drug Discovery Today 2019; 24(11): 2202-2211.)