Special Correspondent

It will debate developments in etiology, diagnosis, treatment

Chronic pancreatitis affects 125 persons in a population of one lakh

Genetic and unidentified environmental factors’ combination may result in its manifestation

VELLORE: Eminent pancreatologists and gastroenterologists will be debating the recent advances in etiology, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic diseases at PANCON 2008, a national conference, at the CMC Hospital here on Friday and Saturday. It is being organised by the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences of Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, under the auspices of the Indian Pancreatic Study Group (IPANS).

Briefing newspersons about the conference on the hospital premises here on Thursday, Ashok Chacko, Professor, Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, CMC, and the chairman of the organising committee, said chronic pancreatitis was an endemic disease in India, affecting 125 persons in a population of one lakh.

About 50 per cent of those having the disease developed diabetes owing to insulin deficiency, 20 to 30 per cent developed mal-absorption owing to deficiency of enzymes to digest food, and 10 per cent developed pancreatic cancer.

Recent research has focussed on the cause of the disease and developed therapies to prevent and treat complications. Joost Drenth, director of Molecular Medicine Laboratory and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology at the Radboud University, Netherlands, will deliver a guest lecture on ‘Molecular mechanisms in etiopathogenesis of chronic pancreatitis’ at 12.15 p.m. on Friday at the Wheeler Hall in ASHA Building on the hospital premises.

Dr. Chacko said that acute pancreatitis was reversible, chronic pancreatitis irreversible.

The current thinking among pancreatologists is that chronic pancreatitis, also known as tropical pancreatitis, is caused by genetic factors. Persons having the disease were found to have genetic mutations, which are not found in normal persons.

Though the cause of the disease is not known completely, it has been found that a combination of genetic factors and unidentified environmental factors may result in its manifestation.

Stones are formed in pancreatic ducts of persons having the disease.

The stones block the duct and worsen the condition, causing chronic stomach pain.

The stones could be removed through endoscopy if they are a few in number, while they could be removed only through surgery if the duct is full of stones.

Persons with tropical pancreatitis could be treated only for pain, and their diabetes and digestive problems could be treated through medicine since the disease is incurable, Dr. Chacko said.

About 120 pancreatologists and gastroenterologists would participate in the conference on Friday.

The IPANS, comprising 40 gastroenterologists in India interested in studying pancreatic diseases peculiar to India, and affordable solutions for diagnosis and therapy, would discuss the developments in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pancreatitis in the last two years and plan the future course of action in tackling the diseases, on Saturday. Suranjan Bhattacharjee, director, CMC Hospital, will inaugurate the conference at 8.30 a.m. on Friday.