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Drug Can Help Diagnose Pancreatic Problems

SecreFlo® first synthetic form of secretin to be OKd

MONDAY, April 8 (HealthDay) -- The U.S. government has given the go-ahead for use of the first-ever synthetic drug that can diagnose problems with the pancreas.

SecreFlo®, which replicates the hormone secretin, can be injected to help doctors determine what sort of pancreatic problems there may be -- from bad digestion to cancer.

The pancreas is located against the spine in the upper abdomen. It produces enzymes that help in digesting protein, fat and carbohydrates. Because of its position in the body, the pancreas is one of the most difficult organs to reach, making diagnoses a challenge.

If the pancreas doesn't function correctly, malnourishment and dehydration can occur. The organ also produces the enzymes that make insulin, the body's sugar regulator.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that since 1999, no secretin product of any kind has been available to patients in the United States except through clinical research. So, FDA approval of SecreFlo is considered a milestone.

Secreflo works by stimulating the pancreas to secrete the juices used to measure the organ's functionality. It is manufactured by Chesapeake Biological Laboratories of Baltimore for RepliGen Corporation of Needham, Mass.

The FDA has issued this Talk Paper about SecreFlo.

For more information about the pancreas and how it works, here is the site from the Pancreas Foundation.

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