New therapy aids bid to beat organ failure caused by pancreatitis

January 11, 2016
Acute exudative pancreatitis on CT scan. Credit: Hellerhoff/Wikipedia

Patients suffering organ failure caused by a common inflammatory condition could be helped by a new therapy.

Scientists have discovered an experimental medicine that protects against organ damage caused by a condition called acute pancreatitis.

The research offers hope for the illness, which has no current treatment, and which affects thousands of people in the UK each year and places a huge burden on facilities.

Acute pancreatitis is caused by a severe inflammatory reaction in the pancreas, which is usually triggered by gallstones or . Pancreatitis is not a disease caused by infection.

Most patients are admitted to hospital but recover without any specialist treatment. However, one in five people with the condition develop life-threatening complications that require intensive care. These people can need breathing support, tube feeding and sometimes kidney dialysis and one in five of those will die.

If the inflammation affecting the pancreas spreads throughout the body, vital organs, for example the lungs, kidneys and gut can fail.

Currently, the only way to treat caused by the condition is to support the functions of the body in the hope that the inflammation resolves.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have previously identified a key enzyme called KMO, which fuels the inflammation linked to the condition.

A team from the University's Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research and the University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science worked with scientists from GlaxoSmithKline to identify a chemical compound that blocks KMO.

In carefully controlled studies using mice and rats, they found that this approach calms inflammation in acute pancreatitis and protects against organ failure caused by the condition.

The research is the product of a Discovery Partnership with Academia (DPAc) collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

In late 2011, Edinburgh BioQuarter negotiated the partnership between the University and GSK, integrating the University's in-depth knowledge of acute pancreatitis, the target and disease biology, with GSK's expertise in making new medicines.

The collaboration has reached a key preclinical milestone - a major step in the journey towards the development of a new medicine to treat acute pancreatitis.

The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine. The team and the research was initially funded by the Health Foundation, Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust, before pursuing a drug discovery programme with GSK.

Mr Damian Mole, an academic consultant surgeon and Principal Investigator in the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh led the research with Dr Scott Webster of the University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science.

Mr Mole said: "Acute pancreatitis is a hugely important health problem and one of the most terrible diseases any individual can suffer. Although we know there is much work to do before clinical trials can confirm whether KMO inhibitors are effective in humans with pancreatitis or not, we are really excited to have this promising new medicine and the opportunity to see if it can make a real difference to patients."

Dr Scott Webster, Reader at the University of Edinburgh's BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said: "We are immensely encouraged that selective KMO inhibition might provide a therapy to treat and are excited to be working with GSK to develop a new medicine for this important unmet medical need."

Explore further: False alarm from the body may be responsible for acute pancreatitis

More information: Nature Medicine, dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.4020

Related Stories

False alarm from the body may be responsible for acute pancreatitis

September 8, 2015
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden may have discovered one of the keys to understanding how the body develops acute pancreatitis. The results offer hope for the development of drugs that specifically target the disease.

Recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis in children has high disease burden, health care costs

January 4, 2016
The burden of recurrent acute and chronic pancreatitis in children may be higher than previously thought, with high costs related to repeated hospitalizations, report a pair of studies in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology ...

Pancreatitis often caused by gallstones—also statins increase risk

December 7, 2015
Idiopathic pancreatitis is often caused by small gallstones that are difficult to observe prior to surgery, shows a study from the University of Eastern Finland. Small gallstones were found in surgery from two out of three ...

Smoking, alcohol, gene variant interact to increase risk of chronic pancreatitis

January 8, 2015
Genetic mutations may link smoking and alcohol consumption to destruction of the pancreas observed in chronic pancreatitis, according to a 12-year study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. ...

Dendritic cells protect against acute pancreatitis

November 22, 2011
NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have discovered the novel protective role dendritic cells play in the pancreas. The new study, published in the November issue of journal Gastroenterology, shows dendritic cells can ...

Scientists identify possible drug target for acute pancreatitis

May 31, 2012
Scientists from the Universities of Illinois and California have found that the inflammatory protein interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays a pivotal role in the duration of acute pancreatitis in animal models with this condition. Their ...

Recommended for you

Pneumonia vaccine under development provides 'most comprehensive coverage' to date, alleviates antimicrobial concerns

October 20, 2017
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. By 2015, the number was less than 1 million.

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

New insights into herpes virus could inform vaccine development

October 18, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered new insights into the mechanisms of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, as well as two antibodies that block the virus' entry into cells. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.