New therapeutic targets for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer have been discovered by a study at the Salk Institute, published in the journal Pancreatitis. Gastroenterology.
In general, a cup of digestive juices (molecules that can break down the food that is consumed) is made by the pancreas. In cases where these molecules are activated before reaching the intestinal tract, they can damage the pancreas itself, thereby digesting the very cells that made them – autodigestion.
‘Lower levels of a protein known as ERR were found to promote autophagy of the pancreas (pancreatic enzymes that digest pancreatic cells), thereby contributing to pancreatitis (painful inflammation) and pancreatic cancer. ‘
Pancreatic protein – potential treatment
This can lead to conditions such as pancreatitis (painful inflammation) and pancreatic cancer. The present study suggests that pancreatic autophagy can be prevented by a protein known as estrogen-related receptor gamma (ERR ɣ) in mice.
“Our findings provide new insight into both the underlying biology of how pancreatic cells work and what can lead to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.” Professor Ronald Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology, and co-author of the study.
“The fact that this (ERR ɣ) is re-related in patients with chronic pancreatitis suggests that ERR ɣ is clinically relevant and may become a good future drug target, ” Evans said.