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From Carbondale, Colorado, USA:

Our son, who is now 30 years old, developed Type 1 diabetes at the age of ten. After having read about the lack of C-peptide and glucagon in manufactured insulin, and its necessity in protecting arteries (and reversing damage to the arteries in rats!), I would like to know how to find a source of these proteins -- chemical or natural. My husband, who also has Type 1 diabetes for about 32 years, will be undergoing his third angioplasty to repair damaged arteries in his legs.

My second question probably cannot be answered easily: if chemists and researchers knew all along that the body naturally produces c-peptide and glucagon as a by-product of insulin; and these are also produced as a by-product when manufacturing insulin -- then why didn't they include them in manufactured insulin to protect diabetics arteries these many past decades?


I think you mustn't be too hard on the manufacturers. Glucagon is not in any sense a component of insulin and that is why it has never been in pharmaceutical insulin. It has an opposite effect to insulin and raises blood sugar from glycogen in the liver. It is readily available and most families will keep some in the house against the possibility of a severe insulin reaction.

C-peptide is also not a component of modern semisynthetic insulin. Here the A and B chains are made separately by human genes implanted into yeast or bacterial cells. The two chains are then fused chemically and at no stage is the proinsulin molecule made which, in the living organism, is the source of C-Peptide. Pork insulin, which of course does contain small amounts of C-peptide in the early stages of preparation, is purified before it is ready for injection. At the moment, C-peptide is not on the market. Despite the encouraging work in rats, the limited clinical trials that have been done in man have given rather equivocal results.

Nonetheless, after a pancreas transplant there is often some regression of vascular complications and whist this may be due to better control, it may also owe something to increased C-peptide.


Original posting 8 Feb 98


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:56
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