Insulin could treat dangerous pancreatitis, new research suggests

Pancreatitis, a sometimes fatal disease that causes severe abdominal pain, inflammation and vomiting, may be curable with insulin treatment, according to a study at the University of Manchester.

Current treatment for the condition is generally limited to nutritional therapies and intravenous fluid.

Dr. Jason Bruce, lead researcher of the study, says that insulin can help to treat pancreatitis in obese patients by lowering fatty acids in the blood. This information is important for diabetics, as these patients have a higher risk of developing pancreatitis and organ failure.

"The major causes of pancreatitis include bile acid reflux from gall stones and excessive alcohol intake combined with a high fat diet," Dr. Bruce said. "In fact, the incidence of acute pancreatitis significantly increases during the Christmas period when alcohol and fat consumption is at its highest amongst the general population."

Calcium pumps

Insulin helps to restore energy to pancreatic acinar cells, Dr. Bruce explained, which gives fuel to calcium "pumps" on these cells - and these prevent cell death and keep the pancreas from digesting itself.

"Although more research is needed to confirm that insulin works in animal models and human clinical trials, this study suggests that combined with tight control over blood glucose insulin may be an effective treatment for pancreatitis," Bruce said. "Furthermore, if we can better understand how insulin works, then we might be able to design new and more effective drugs that might one day provide the first curative treatment for this disease."

Source: Science Daily

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