BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A professor at LSU is harnessing antioxidant compounds found in red wine to help treat heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
Heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in the artery walls and blocks the flow of blood through the body, which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reports about 630,000 people die every year from heart disease.
While there is no one cure for heart disease, there are numerous treatments, surgeries, and lifestyle changes to combat the disease. LSU Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences Professor Tammy Dugas is developing a new stent that releases antioxidants from red wine over time to promote healing and prevent blood clots and inflammation. The two antioxidant compounds used for this treatment are resveratrol and quercetin.
"By delivering red wine antioxidants during conventional angioplasty, it may be possible to prevent excess tissue from building up and the blood vessel from narrowing again as it heals," said Dr. Dugas.
As well as the stent, Dugas and her colleagues are working on a balloon coated with the same compounds to treat blood flow blockages throughout the body, a condition known as peripheral artery disease. The disease can limit blood flow to the kidneys, stomach, and arms and legs and affects about 8 to 12 millions people in the U.S.
These drug-coated balloons are a relatively new treatment and are being developed to help cardiologists treat arteries that are hard to target with traditional angioplasty and stent treatments.
Dr. Dugas is a professor in LSU's Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences within the School of Veterinary Medicine. She's a co-founder of ReQuisite Biomedical. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from LSU in 1996. She then completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Drexel University, then another post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
Dugas joined LSU's team in 2014. Dugas is from southwest Louisiana and says she comes from a family of Cajun musicians, but is not a musician herself, although she did play the mellophone in LSU's Tiger Band when she was a student.