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Episode #104: Digestion & Nutrition

Dr. Howard Crawford and Dr. Nina Steele from Henry Ford’s Pancreatic Cancer Center discuss the complexities of the digestive system, focusing on the role of organs like the stomach, salivary glands, and pancreas. They emphasize the importance of understanding the overall system and its functions, both before and after procedures like the Whipple surgery, when addressing digestive issues. Discussion includes the roles of various organs, such as the salivary glands, which produce digestive enzymes, and the stomach, which secretes hormones for nutrient absorption and regulates the digestive process through peristalsis.
The scientists also touch on the intricacies of the nervous system’s role in digestion and how it interacts with different organs. Additionally, they explore the potential for cellular plasticity in the digestive system as a response to the loss of certain functions and Stanford University’s ongoing research in this area. Overall, the conversation revolves around the complexities of the digestive system, the influences of age and surgery on its functions, and the importance of continued research in this field. Ongoing clinical trials focus on preventing pancreatic cancer recurrence are discussed. Trials led by the Mayo Clinic involve patient biopsies and surgeries with tumor sequencing for preventive measures. The success of these immune therapies relies on the elimination of residual disease post-surgery. 

HIGHLIGHTS

00:00:00    Dr. Crawford and Dr. Steele discuss the normal functioning of the digestive system and the potential effects of pancreatic cancer and its treatment on nutrition.

00:05:00    The importance of salivary glands and stomach in the digestive process.

00:10:00    Relation between the roles of the stomach in digestion and nutrition.

00:15:00    The complex role of the nervous system, specifically the enteric nervous system, in digestion.

00:20:00    Functions of different regions of the stomach in aiding digestion.

00:25:00    Potential for cellular plasticity in the digestive system, specifically in the case of a total pancreatectomy or after a Whipple procedure.

00:30:00    Roles of various organs in the digestive system, including the pancreas – which is described as having both endocrine and exocrine functions.

00:35:00    The role of the pancreas in regulating glucose levels through the production of insulin and glucagon.

00:40:00    Consequences of losing parts of the digestive tract during surgeries like the Whipple and pancreatectomy.

00:45:00    Personal experiences with digestion and nutrition are shared, specifically regarding the absorption of certain vitamins and fats.

00:50:00    Absorption of nutrients and the role of the microbiome in various parts of the digestive system.

00:55:00    How chemotherapy can affect the endothelial cells in veins and arteries, potentially altering their functionality.

01:00:00    Ongoing clinical trials aimed at preventing pancreatic cancer recurrence.