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Indian Scientists Identify Second Pancreatitis Gene

Indian scientists have discovered a second candidate gene - cathepsin B - responsible for the fatal tropical calcific pancreatitis disease that leads to a gradual destruction of the pancreas.//

A chronic disease that leads to progressive destruction of pancreas and a painful death, pancreatitis can strike people in tropical countries, including India, and in the west.

The gene was identified by experts of two premier Hyderabad-based scientific institutions - the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG).

CCMB chief G.R. Chandak and D. Nageshwar Reddy of AIG told reporters in Hyderabad Friday that their extensive study found two different genes that caused pancreatitis.

Since the experts started collaborative research on the subject, this is the second candidate gene they have found responsible for causing the chronic pancreatitis.

Earlier, they had identified the involvement of the mutation of another gene - SPINK1.

"SPINK1 produces protein trypsin, which normally works as an inhibitor inside the pancreas. But mutation in SPINK1 gene can reduce the inhibitory function of trypsin, which becomes active inside pancreas and starts digesting the pancreas itself," Chandak said.

However, they found that the mutation of SPINK1 gene was not present in all patients of chronic pancreatitis and it raised the possibility of other genes also causing the same disease. Further research led to the discovery of another gene - cathepsin B - that causes the same disease.

According to the study, which was carried by international medical journal GUT in its online edition, the mutation of cathepsin B works like a trigger for trypsinogen to become active prematurely inside the pancreas and thus damage the pancreas.

Chandak said that even though these two genes work from different pathways, the next task before his team was to find
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