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A person holds a model of the human pancreas between two palms horizontally.
Pancreatic enzyme therapy can serve as a pivotal step in not only managing the symptoms associated with these conditions but also in altering the course of the disease.
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Personalizing Enzyme Therapy to Improve Pancreatitis in Kids

When on pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, the mean acute pancreatitis annual incidence rate decreased from 3.14 to 0.71

Ochsner Health

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Published:Mar 27, 2024
|2 min read
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A research study recently published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology explains the role of pancreatic enzyme therapy (PERT) in reducing the frequency of acute pancreatitis (AP) in children with acute recurrent pancreatitis (ARP) or chronic pancreatitis (CP). 

In this retrospective cohort study, involving 356 participants—270 with ARP and 60 receiving PERT—the impact of PERT on clinical outcomes was assessed. After initiation of PERT, the mean AP annual incidence rate decreased from 3.14 to 0.71 (p<0.001). The findings revealed that 42 percent of children on PERT did not experience a subsequent AP episode over an average follow-up period of 2.1 years. Notably, children with a SPINK1 mutation and those with ARP (compared to CP) were less likely to experience an AP episode after initiating PERT.

Timely initiation of PERT can serve as a pivotal step in not only managing the symptoms associated with these conditions but also in altering the course of the disease. It’s noteworthy that the research suggests the genetic profile of the patient, including the presence of the SPINK1 mutation, plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of PERT. This underscores the need for personalized medicine approaches in treating pancreatitis and calls for a deeper investigation into genetic markers that may influence treatment outcomes.

Clinical trials to test the safety of PERT

Furthermore, the study sheds light on the broader implications of PERT, beyond extenuating AP episodes. It opens avenues for discussions on its impact on the quality of life of children with ARP and CP, as well as its potential to decrease the economic burden associated with hospitalizations and medical interventions for acute episodes. 

Given the promising findings, the call for a well-structured clinical trial to rigorously test the efficacy and safety of PERT in a controlled environment is both timely and critical. Such trials could pave the way for developing standardized treatment protocols, ultimately enhancing patient care and outcomes in pediatric pancreatitis.

Matthew Giefer, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Ochsner Children’s Hospital, LA, and a contributing author for the publication emphasized the potential of PERT in altering the pediatric pancreatitis treatment landscape. "Our findings not only highlight PERT's role in significantly reducing the incidence of acute pancreatitis episodes among children with recurrent or chronic pancreatitis but also underscore the importance of a tailored treatment approach based on genetic markers,” said Giefer. “This research lays the groundwork for future clinical trials, aiming to optimize treatment strategies and improve the quality of life for these patients who have a disease that has historically been difficult to manage."

- This press release is supported by Ochsner Health