Potential acute pancreatitis treatment identified by team of UAB researchers

Pirfenidone shows promise as treatment for acute pancreatitis in therapeutic settings, according to new study.
Written by: Emma Shepard
Media contact: Adam Pope

Dudeja streamVikas Dudeja, M.D. (Photography: Lexi Coon)According to the Pancreas Foundation, nearly 220,000 people in the United States will be afflicted with acute pancreatitis each year. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that treatment with pirfenidone in therapeutic settings — like after initiation of injury — even when administered at the peak of injury, reduces severity of local and systemic injury and inflammation of acute pancreatitis. 

“Acute pancreatitis can develop quickly and is debilitating for many,” said Vikas Dudeja, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Surgical Oncology. “Our lab seeks to mitigate the symptoms of this disease through potential treatments that would bring relief to our patients who experience acute pancreatitis.”

Dudeja, alongside members of his lab, are researching several potential treatments for acute pancreatitis, including the study focused on pirfenidone as a therapy for acute pancreatitis that was funded by the United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity.

Before this grant, Dudeja was awarded a similar grant to study another potential treatment for pancreatitis, “Evaluation of NADPH Oxidase 1/4 Inhibition as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy Against Chronic Pancreatitis.”

The Dudeja Lab and collaborating researchers note that next steps for researching pirfenidone as a treatment for acute pancreatitis look promising. In fact, pirfenidone is already FDA-approved for another disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. A trial evaluating the efficacy of pirfenidone in patients with moderate to severe acute pancreatitis could be initiated soon.

At UAB, Dudeja is the James P. Hayes, Jr., Endowed Professor in Gastrointestinal Oncology.