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Acute and chronic pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis is a common and potentially life threatening inflammatory disease of the pancreas with increasing incidence worldwide. If progressing to chronic pancreatitis it leads to a fibro-inflammatory tissue remodeling, being accompanied by disabling pain, loss of exocrine and endocrine function, shorter life expectancy and increased risk for pancreatic cancer. Although the risk factors for the development of pancreatitis, like excessive alcohol consumption, gall stones, cigarette smoking and certain genetic changes have been well described, little is known about the molecular mechanisms and no curative treatment is at hand.

Our group uses a broad variety of animal models as well as isolation of primary pancreatic cells in combination with molecular biology techniques, small animal imaging and genetic studies to better understand the cellular and subcellular processes that lead to premature pancreatic enzyme activation, facilitate the inflammatory cross-talk and determine organ fate. Ultimately we hope to identify novel therapeutic strategies to improve outcome in human disease.