The Pancreas Basic Research and Development program supports research on the structure, function, and diseases—excluding cancer and cystic fibrosis—of the exocrine pancreas. Specific projects examine the hormonal and neural regulation of electrolyte, fluid, and enzyme secretion; receptors for secretagogues; and stimulus-secretion coupling mechanisms. Also of interest are studies of gut-islet-acinar interrelations; organization and expression of pancreatic genes; and protein synthesis and export.
The program encourages work that advances our understanding of tissue injury, repair, and regeneration; the physiology and pathology of trophic responses; neural innervation; and transcapillary solute and fluid exchange. Information about pancreatic development has led to insights regarding nuclear transcription factors and signaling pathways regulating pancreatic progenitor/precursor cell expansion and differentiation. The identification and characterization of progenitor cells that can support expansion of ductal/exocrine cell populations destroyed during acute or chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatic cancer, and factors that control differentiation of the descendants of these progenitors--along with a more complete understanding of the normal pancreas at each stage of development--is essential for future advances in detecting, preventing, and treating these diseases.