A compound formed during insulin production and once dismissed as irrelevant in diabetes may be a key to preventing the complications that make type 1 diabetessuch a serious disease.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, afflicts about 800,000 people in the U.S. alone, sharply increasing their risk of heart attacks, vision loss, kidney failure, and other complications.
In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud notes that scientists previously believed that the compound, called C-peptide, had little biological activity and was a useless byproduct of insulin production.
In recent years, however, researchers have seen beneficial effects of C-peptide in patients with type 1 diabetes, including improved kidney function, nerve function, and blood flow. New laboratory research now bolsters that view, suggesting that the compound may work by enhancing the ability of red blood cells to utilize glucose similar to the role that insulin plays for other cell types but only when it binds a metal ion, the article notes.
Clinical studies on the compound, so far inconclusive, may determine if C-peptide can help prevent or delay complications of type 1 diabetes, Arnaud points out. The new research is “a significant contribution to our understanding of C-peptide biology,” according to the article.
Chemical & Engineering News, Jan 14, 2008-01-19