Project Details


Chronic pancreatitis is a devastating disease leading to severe pain, weight loss, diabetes, and frequent hospital admissions. It dramatically increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. It affects 50 in every 100,000 individuals in the US, with greater risk in men and African-Americans. Chronic pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is repeatedly injured, leading to permanent damage. The pancreas is the organ responsible for the secretion of digestive juices and hormones, like insulin, important for keeping normal glucose levels in the blood. Therefore, many patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis have digestion problems, nausea, and weight loss. More importantly, chronic pancreatitis can provoke pain in the abdomen that can be very disabling. In some cases, this pain can spread to other parts of the body or get worse after eating. It is known that possible causes of the disease are: alcohol abuse, autoimmune disease, and history of familial pancreatitis. Current treatments aim to treat the symptoms such as pain, nausea, and diabetes. However, there are very few therapies that prevent or improve the damage to the pancreas. Understanding how the pancreas changes in chronic pancreatitis to become chronically inflamed is essential for finding new and better therapies to prevent or improve the symptoms.

Our project will study how pancreas and nerves communicate when there is inflammation in the pancreas. We will use mouse models that mimic chronic pancreatitis to discover which nerves communicate with the pancreas and what are their functions. In order to achieve this, we will study where these nerves are and what are their tasks in the pancreas of healthy animals and animals with chronic pancreatitis. Moreover, we will use modern techniques to control these nerves by making them more active or preventing their activity. These experiments will determine the effects of these changes on inflammation and pain.

In conclusion, the proposed project will help us understand the effect of inflammation on the nerves that communicate with the pancreas and how nerves react to the inflammation. Our findings could serve for a future development of better therapies that target the pancreatic nerves for the improvement or prevention of the disease.

Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …


  • Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs: $339,000.00


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