Prof. Damian Mole

This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.

On November Guts UK launched a campaign to raise awareness of pancreatitis and funds for research. Please help us by sharing this story on Facebook and on Twitter tagging @GutsCharityUK.

This time we are sharing two separate but closely related stories from clinicians who work in pancreatitis research. This story is from Prof. Damian Mole, a surgeon and researcher at the University of Edinburgh.  Make sure you also read Dr Hayes’ story, who is a trainee surgeon and was our last Amelie Waring Fellow.

Prof. Damian Mole’s Story

My name is Damian Mole and I am a Professor of Clinical and Experimental Surgery, a Senior Clinical Lecturer and an Honorary Consultant Surgeon. I am based at the University of Edinburgh and my research focuses on how to improve the outcome of patients with severe acute pancreatitis. I aim to do this by understanding the mechanisms behind the disease and developing novel therapies that protect against multiple organ dysfunction.

I don’t think anyone who is part of a healthcare team that looks after people affected by any kind of pancreatitis underestimates the profound impact it has on these individuals, their families and their loved ones. Certainly, those of us who have committed our medical and scientific working lives to understanding pancreatitis, its different forms and presentations, and in particular how it effects each individual differently, acknowledge just how far we have yet to progress to prevent and cure pancreatitis, and directly save lives.

But we are making really good headway into solving this challenge. We are on the brink of some really exciting trials in acute pancreatitis. For example, the research team I lead has discovered that a component of metabolism, a molecule called KMO, can be targeted with new medicines to protect against the lung, kidney and other multiorgan complications of pancreatitis. We have teamed up with GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, to be able to make some really promising new medicines that block KMO, and we have begun the process of evaluating those in human clinical trials. There are also other examples of new medicines from other teams around the world.

Diagnosing and treating each individual person with acute pancreatitis according to their own personal characteristics (especially their genes, proteins and metabolites) and according to how those individual characteristics change during an episode of acute pancreatitis, is also a really exciting new area in which my team is leading the way in the UK, and internationally. In the near future this is going to allow us to identify treatment opportunities in each specific individual who gets pancreatitis, and focus those specific treatments to individual people who stand to benefit most from that treatment. Likewise, for other people, a different treatment might be more effective – we call this precision medicine – and we are doing everything we can to make it a reality in pancreatitis.

More information on the research

Learn more about the work of Professor Mole and his team are doing on acute pancreatitis and hear patients involved with the APPreSci Consortium talk about their experiences with pancreatitis:

What can you do?

Join in our Kranky Panky Weekend fun and fundraise for more pancreatitis research with Guts UK. Check out some of our fun ideas here!

Guts UK is proud to fund the only fellowship into pancreatitis in the UK. However, one fellowship every three years is not nearly enough for this potentially deadly condition with no specific treatment. We need to do more. Help Guts UK fund more research to find a treatment for pancreatitis by donating today.

More information

Find out about acute and chronic pancreatitis in our Conditions section and read tips and suggestions on how to manage chronic pancreatitis from those affected by this condition.