According to a story from Business Weekly, the biotechnology company Healx, from Cambridge, UK, and the US-based Mission: Cure coalition have announced a new partnership which aims to help develop the first ever treatment for chronic pancreatitis, an uncommon, long-term condition of inflammation affecting the pancreas. This partnership will operate as part of Healx’s Rare Treatment Accelerator program.
About Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic pancreatitis is a condition characterized by long-standing inflammation affecting the pancreas, a glandular organ positioned behind the stomach which plays a role in the digestive and endocrine systems. It can inflict permanent damage to the organ and can present as acute symptom episodes or as persistent, chronic symptoms. There are several potential causes of chronic pancreatitis; it is present in the majority of cystic fibrosis patients, and can also be triggered by certain autoimmune disorders, intraductal blockage, tumors, calcific stones, and ischemia (restricted blood flow). Smoking is a potential risk factor but chronic pancreatitis patients tend to have genetic markers that cause the disease and environmental factors play a minor role in disease causation and progression.
Symptoms include type 1 diabetes, upper abdominal pain that comes and goes, unexpected weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and, steatorrhea (loose, oily bowel movements). Treatment is mostly symptomatic and is based on the identified cause; it may include halting alcohol consumption, insulin therapy (if diabetes appears), low fat diet, painkillers (including opiates), surgery, and pancreatic enzyme replacement. To learn more about chronic pancreatitis, click here.
Hope For a New Treatment
Chronic pancreatitis is believed to affect more than a million people around the world, including at least 150,000 US citizens. There are no FDA-approved treatments for the condition, and current options often leave something to be desired, particularly in serious cases in which removal of the pancreas is considered necessary.
Healx is tapping into its AI rare disease platform Healnet for the project, which organizes biomedical data from a diverse array of sources in order to identify possible therapies and drug combinations that could be repurposed for a given disease or condition. Mission: Cure’s extensive network of patients and clinical data gives the partners hope that a new drug could complete development in the not too distant future:
“We are excited to move the needle forward for pancreatitis patients with the help of Healx. Their AI-powered drug repurposing model gives pancreatitis patients hope that they will see an effective treatment for their disease in the next 5 years.” – Megan Golden, Mission: Cure President