LSU Health Shreveport Faculty Members secure research grants

By Nikki Henderson |

Published 06/18 2014 10:23AM

Updated 06/18 2014 10:31AM

Three LSU Health Shreveport faculty members have recently received new grants totaling nearly $850,000 from the National Institutes of Health.

The grants will fund research on epilepsy, preeclampsia and drug-eluting stents for cardiac disease.

Assistant Professor of Cellular Biology and Anatomy Ed Glasscock, PhD, began studying epilepsy as a graduate student at UC-Berkeley 15 years ago. He became especially interested in finding out why people with epilepsy are 24 times more likely to have a sudden, unexplained death. The condition is known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or SUDEP.  Over the years, his desire to find a way to prevent this tragic occurrence has been strengthened by talking to people who have lost loved ones to it. "Those interactions remind me of the real-life human tragedy caused by SUDEP and it motivates me to keep working toward a therapy," he explained.

The next phase of his work is to understand the underlying genetic factors that predispose an individual to epilepsy and sudden unexpected death. His work will be aided by a recent grant award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which will provide nearly $400,000 over two years for the studies.

For Dr. Glasscock and his colleagues the ultimate goal is to improve the ability to predict, prevent and treat epilepsy, which affects about 1 in 26 Americans.

Dr. Yuping Wang, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has received a grant award of $396,000 from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study the role of a substance called chymase in the pregnancy disorder preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition that affects about 5-7 percent of pregnant women, causing the blood vessels in the body to constrict. Reduced blood flow can damage organs, causing severe or life threatening problems for mother and baby.

Chymase is present in cells. When it is activated, it generates agents that narrow blood vessels. This contributes significantly to increased blood pressure. Dr. Wang was the first to identify chymase activation in women with preeclampsia, but why it is activated is not known.

Dr. Lynn Groome, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Dr. Steve Alexander, Professor of Physiology; and Dr. Kevin Pruitt, Assistant Professor of Physiology, are collaborators for the study.  The team expects that results obtained from this research could ultimately lead to development of new medications to manage preeclampsia and cardiovascular diseases in general.

Drug-Eluting Stent
A $67,500 Small Business Technology Transfer award will help Professor Tammy Dugas, PhD, move her innovative coating for coronary stents and balloons one step closer to completion.

For more than five years, Dr. Dugas has been involved in research focusing on the use of polyphenols, groups of chemicals found in red wine, as coatings for the devices used to correct blocked and narrowed blood vessels in the heart. The goal is to develop a stent coating that releases these drugs, which have been found to produce healthful chemicals that could inhibit re-narrowing of blood vessels or formation of blood clots. These are common complications for patients after placement of stents for heart disease.

To aid in development of the polyphenol-coated balloons and stents, she and a cofounder have created ReQuisite Biomedical, LLC. The company has developed a prototype of the polyphenol coated stent.

This NIH award will be used for initial testing of the prototype in animals to pave the way for FDA approvals allowing testing in humans.

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