This year has witnessed substantial advances in receptor biology and signal transduction that are relevant to the function and regulation of the healthy pancreas and to the pathogenesis and potential therapy of pancreatitis and pancreatic carcinoma. There has been an expansion in the cast of pancreatic regulatory molecules, now including protease-activated receptors, chemokines, and chemokine receptors. There have been new insights into the cellular distribution and signaling initiated at the classic pancreatic receptors. There have also been dramatic advances in insights into the structure of G protein-coupled receptors, with the first solution of a crystal structure of a member of this superfamily, and into the molecular basis of ligand binding and activation of these important molecules. This will clearly improve the opportunities for the rational design and refinement of receptor-active drugs. In addition to these fundamental advances, there has been renewed attention to the expression, function, and regulation of receptors and signaling pathways in pancreatic cells present in the setting of pancreatitis and pancreatic carcinoma. It is hoped that this will contribute toward earlier diagnosis, more successful therapy, and new chemopreventive strategies for these illnesses.
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