Commercial heart stents – used to keep arteries open in patients with heart problems – can release toxic agents and cause blood vessels to narrow again. However, Professor Tammy Dugas of the Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences is developing a new stent that releases red wine antioxidants slowly over time: promoting healing while preventing blood clotting and inflammation.
Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, is often linked with protection against heart disease, while scientists have also suggested roles in helping prevent age-related memory decline and aiding the gut microbiome.
Heart disease occurs when plaque builds up within arteries, blocking the flow of blood and thus increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
In coronary angioplasty, a surgeon inserts and inflates a small balloon into an artery to widen it, often inserting a permanent small mesh tube called a stent to support the blood vessel.
Professor Dugas’ stent would release resveratrol and quercetin slowly over time to promote healing and prevent blood clotting and inflammation.
“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,” she said.
The technique could also be used to treat blood flow blockages throughout the body in peripheral artery disease.