Pancreatitis cancer research project
Medical background: What is chronic pancreatitis?
The pancreas is in the lower abdomen, roughly at the level of the navel, and is responsible for regulating the level of blood sugar by producing insulin and releasing it into the bloodstream. The pancreas also plays an important role in digestion in that it transfers digestive enzymes (pancreatic juice) to the small intestines. Physicians refer to chronic pancreatitis when a pancreas is permanently or repeatedly infected, causing disruptions in its vital properties. Alcohol is seen as one of the major causes for chronic pancreatitis, with the most common symptom being upper abdominal pain. Treatment includes medication, operations, and alterations of those lifestyle habits which are thought to trigger the disease.
Reveal genetic causes
The complex interaction of various risks in the genetic background by using next generation sequencing methods is investigated in the research project. Biomarkers for acute and chronic pancreatitis as well as for pancreatic cancer are being developed for patients. Research results from DNA analysis of patients with pancreatic diseases are promptly incorporated in the development of accurate diagnostic tests in order to facilitate the early and reliable detection of genetic disease factors in the clinical routine. Physicians, patients and affected relatives will be enabled to decide on the right therapy and prevention measures by detecting a hereditary predisposition in an early stage of the disease.
Difficult diagnostic process
Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer are often detected late or even too late. Patients mostly have to undergo a precarious medical process for several years before being diagnosed correctly. Statistically, about 64 out of 100,000 people are being diagnosed each year with pancreatitis in Germany (approximately 50,000 to 60,000 patients), in some cases resulting in a tumor by the chronic inflammation with still a high lethal rate.