New Delhi: In what as come as a huge relief for millions of diabetes sufferers, a NHS-approved weekly jab is set to end the need for twice a day injections.
The new treatment is a slow-release version of a previously available drug which mimics one of the body`s hormones.
Now the national drug rationing body has recommended the drug, exenatide, in draft guidance.
The drug, called Bydureon by its makers, has been found to be just as effective at controlling Type 2 diabetes as the 14 injections a week that most patients currently endure.
Exenatide is the first in a new class of medicines known as incretin mimetics, which stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin in response to raised blood sugar, and also influences digestion and appetite.
Produced by pharmaceutical company Lilly, it mimics a hormone found in a lizard from Mexico. The two-foot-long pink and black lizard called the Gila Monster has a chemical in its saliva similar to a human hormone which helps regulate blood sugar.
The Gila lizard only eats three or four times a year but the compound, exendin-4, helps it digest the meals very slowly.
This quality was produced synthetically to produce exenatide. The drug helps the body produce more insulin when needed, reduces the amount of glucose produced by the liver when it is not needed and reduces the rate at which the stomach digests foods.
This means that the rate at which glucose from food is released into the blood is reduced.
As well as being easier to use for patients, the new drug has been shown in trials to dramatically improve blood sugar level reduction.
One study found that 77 per cent of those receiving the weekly dose kept their blood sugar levels below the benchmark set by researchers, compared with 61 per cent having daily injections, reports the Daily Express.
The patients on the weekly course also suffered fewer side-effects.