A research team led by physician-scientists from Cedars-Sinai was awarded $10 million from the Department of Defense to study risk factors and behaviors that contribute to pancreatic diseases, according to a press release.
The funding, according to the release, aims to help propel development of possible treatments and lifestyle recommendations to prevent the diseases.
Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas that is typically caused by gallstones or heavy alcohol use, will be the primary focus of the research.
There are currently no approved therapies or preventive measures to treat progressive and chronic forms of pancreatitis.
“We hope our study projects will reveal how recurring and chronic pancreatitis develops in patients, due to lifestyle factors such as alcohol abuse and smoking,” lead investigator Stephen J. Pandol, MD, director of Basic and Translational Pancreas Research at Cedars-Sinai, said in the release. “The goal is to use our enhanced understanding to develop new experimental therapeutics to prevent the development of pancreatic cancers.”
The grant will go to fund four separate projects, according to the release.
The first project will seek to identify pancreatitis triggers that can be studied in the laboratory and used to update lifestyle recommendations for patients with pancreatitis.
The second project’s aim is to determine the effects of alcohol and smoking on pancreas cells and substructures within those cells.
The third project will include researchers studying the involvement of the immune system and inflammatory responses in acute and chronic pancreatitis. The researchers will also aim to test potential therapies that may stop or reverse disease progression.
The final project aims to investigate the effects of alcohol, smoking and genetic risk factors on the cells of the pancreas.