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[IP] Research on Diabetic Complications
DETROIT (AP) - A hormone scientists once thought was
``garbage'' is now believed to reduce some of the worst
complications from Type 1 diabetes, researchers said.
The research focuses on C-peptide, a molecular cousin of
insulin, which regulates the body's sugar levels.
Researchers still aren't sure exactly what function
C-peptide plays in the body. But scientists gathered
for an international diabetes symposium in Michigan last
weekend were excited about preliminary studies that show
injections of C-peptide along with insulin reduced
serious diabetic complications such as kidney damage.
"We thought it was garbage,'' said Dr. Anders Sima, a
researcher at the Wayne State University School
of Medicine. Instead, he said, C-peptide and insulin
may be like the oil and gas that cars need to run
properly. Insulin helps the body to balance metabolism;
C-peptide helps the body last a lifetime. Sima and
others summarized the findings at the Third Annual
International Motor City Diabetes Symposium.
A large international study is expected to begin next
year, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday. If early
research is reproduced, C-peptide could easily be
administered because it already is manufactured as a
byproduct of insulin. It would be added to the insulin
injections Type 1 diabetics now take.
Even with strict diets, daily insulin and close
monitoring of blood-sugar levels, four of 10 diabetics
develop serious problems, including kidney failure,
heart and peripheral nerve problems and deteriorating
vision and eventual blindness. In the United States,
about 17,000 die each year of such complications.
Sima said early research also shows that C-peptide
delays the onset of complications. It also may be
helpful in some cases of Type 2 diabetes which also are
insulin deficient. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune
problem in which beta cells in the pancreas are killed.
Beta cells make insulin and C-peptide, which are
depleted in people with Type 1 diabetes.
C-peptide was discovered in 1967, but scientists lost
interest when they could not show that it helped with
metabolism the way insulin does, said Dr. George
Grunberger, professor and director of Wayne State's
Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.
A handful of researchers, however, continued the work.
The payoff came in the past few years. Dr. John Wahren,
of Sweden's Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found
that daily injections of C-peptide limited kidney,
bowel, sexual and circulatory complications in Type 1
diabetics. Sima demonstrated the same benefits in
Scientists now theorize that a lack of C-peptide may be
the key to progression of the disease.
``We've found there very well may be use for what was
called shavings from the carpenter's bench,'' Wahren
Soon, Wahren will begin studies of C-peptide therapy at
three Swedish sites. He and Sima also have
held preliminary talks with European and U.S. drug
officials about the scope of larger studies, which they
hope will be under way by spring.
Further work to design the study will be done at a
meeting in Sweden planned for December, Sima said.
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