Stories tagged pancreas


Insulin pump: New hope for diabetics.
Insulin pump: New hope for diabetics.

Diabetes in 171 million (WHO)

My niece nearly died from diabetes complicactions just before Thanksgiving. Shortly after being diagnosed with child onset diabetes (type 1), she suffered toxic shock syndrome. Before eating her Thanksgiving meal she needed to get blood from her finger, measure her blood sugar, calculate the amount of insulin needed for the food she would eat, then inject the proper amount via a needle into her body.

At Christmas time I shared with her that perhaps within a few years, a cure for her diabetes would be available. In a breed of mice genetically predestined to develop diabetes, researchers discovered that

after just one injection of a neuropeptide called "substance P" the diabetes disappeared overnight and the mice remained diabetes-free for weeks, and even months in some

New model for diabetes cause (and cure)

This research is reported in the December 15 issue of the journal, Cell.
Scientists at a Toronto hospital found that malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas might be the cause of diabetes. This upsets conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes is caused by an auto-immune response.

“We started to look at nervous system elements that seemed to play a role in Type 1 diabetes and found that specific sensory neurons are critical for islet immune attack in the pancreas,” said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, study principal investigator, senior scientist at SickKids and professor of Paediatrics and Immunology at the University of Toronto. “These nerves secrete insufficient neuropeptides which sustain normal islet function, creating a vicious circle of progressive islet stress.”

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market. Post


Pancreas: Courtesy Wikipedia Images

Where and more importantly, what is the function of the pancreas? This question has come up numerous times while working in Gunther van Hagens’ BODY WORLDS.

The pancreas lies within the abdominopelvic cavity in the J-shaped loop between the stomach and the small intestine. Abdominopelvic means just how it sounds; a region including the abdominal cavity as well as the pelvic cavity. The pancreas lies posterior to the stomach, extending laterally from the duodenum toward the spleen.

Physical Characteristics
The human pancreas is a slender, pale (pinkish gray) organ with a nodular (lumpy) consistency. A pancreas has a length of about fifteen centimeters (six inches) and weighs about eighty grams (three ounces). The organ has a head (closest to the duodenum), body and a tail (reaching towards the spleen). A thin, transparent capsule of connective tissue wraps the entire organ.

Major Ducts
The pancreas has two major ducts: the pancreatic duct and the accessory pancreatic duct. The accessory pancreatic duct is a small branch extending from the pancreatic duct. The ducts deliver digestive enzymes and buffers to the duodenum.

The pancreas has two distinct functions; one endocrine and the other exocrine. Pancreas endocrine cells secrete insulin and glucagons into the bloodstream. The exocrine cells include the acinar cells and the epithelial cells which line pancreas ducts. Together, the exocrine cells create pancreatic juice (an alkaline mixture of digestive enzymes, water and ions). These enzymes do most of the digestive work in the small intestine, breaking down food particles for absorption. Every day, the pancreas secretes about 1,000 ml (1 qt.) of pancreatic juice.

Source: Martini, F.H. (2004) Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology: 6th Edition.