This week a study was published by scientists at Cardiff University in the UK entitled “Calcium release-activated calcium channel blockade as a potential tool in anti-pancreatitis therapy.” As reported by the university, researchers used a calcium-blocking compound to reduce the calcium flowing into isolated pancreatic cells. This calcium is apparently the major cause of cell destruction during attacks of acute pancreatitis.
The principal author was quoted as saying:
“Our research shows that the calcium channel inhibiting compound offers unique and effective protection against inappropriate activation inside the cells of digestive enzymes, which would cannibalise the pancreas and the surrounding tissue.
“This breakthrough shows huge potential to radically change and improve the outcome for patients suffering from severe pancreatitis. The publication of these findings will open the way for further research involving animals and humans – and, if successful, we shall for the first time be able to treat this often fatal disease.”
The sponsors of the study cautioned that considerable work lay ahead in translating this research into a treatment (including replication in animal and then human trials), but that it showed promise.
The study is to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, though it has not yet shown up on their web site. This exciting development certainly warrants closing monitoring.