Treating pain due to pancreatic cancer is one of the leading challenges in clinical gastroenterology. The majority of these patients develop pain recurrence or opiate-dependence despite endoscopic or surgical interventions.
Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) discovered the cause of this phenomenon for the first time have found the cause of this phenomenon. Scientists suggest that a particular neuroenzyme in the body is present in the nerves of the organ in high concentrations.
Scientists examined pancreatic tissue samples from 42 female and male patients with chronic inflammation (chronic pancreatitis) or cancer of the organ (pancreatic carcinoma). The samples were taken from the head region of the organ. Around there, the nerve density is significantly high, and the pancreatic head is thus evacuated for therapeutic reasons. Tissue donations from healthy subjects served as controls in the new investigation.
Scientists determined the levels of the most significant neurotransmitters and neuroenzymes present in nerves of the pancreas for correspondence and signal transmission.
Ekin Demir, head of the study, said, “We’ve created a pain mediator profile for this region of the pancreas, which plays a key role in the development and perception of pain. This makes it easy to detect pathological changes.”
Scientists found an increased level of a specific enzyme in the nerves of the pancreatic tissue patient samples that were examined: neuronal nitric oxide synthetase (nNOS). This protein is responsible for the synthesis of the messenger NO, which assumes a job in, in addition to other things, the development of pain. Specifically, NO prompts neuronal hyperactivation by binding to receptors on the neuronal surface.
When scientists added extracts from the patient samples to nerve cell cultures, they found an increased amount of the nNOS enzyme in the cultured nerve cells.
In a well-established mouse model for pancreatic scientists used a particular inhibitor that blocks nNOS. This substance is now endorsed as an exploratory medication; however, it can’t yet be utilized in humans. Demir’s team found that mice receiving the drug were significantly less delicate to contact in the influenced abdominal area than the control animals. This fills in as a pointer of pain perception.
Ekin Demir’s group currently plans to test the new medication in preliminary preclinical and later additionally in clinical examinations with the expectation of maybe utilizing it later on as an alternative pain treatment for pancreatic patients.
The study is published in the journal EBioMedicine.