Prof. Naren Vyavahare is Director and co-founder of the Clemson University Center of Bioengineering Research Excellence (COBRE), dedicated to finding better treatments for human diseases by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers. He has raised more than $27 million for R&D at Clemson for initiatives ranging from medical device development to nanomedicine therapy. The facility is recognized at the leading facility of its type in South Carolina, located close to the renowned Research Triangle.
Chemical structure of tannic acid. The shaded circle highlights pentagalloylglucose (PGG), the core structure of TA
However, before polyphenols could do their work, the elastin had to be de-calcified. This was challenging because few if any drugs were able to penetrate the wall of the valve in sufficient concentration to get rid of the calcification.
Dr. Vyavahare began to investigate a range of chemicals, drugs and delivery mechanisms that might solve the problem.
One of his early discoveries was that a derivative of polyphenols, which are natural substances found in many foods, was able to restore damaged elastin fiber. The discovery led to an awarded patent.
Bioprosthetic heart valve fabricated from a pig’s valve using a cross-linking method developed in Vyavahare’s lab. Image credit courtesy of the Naren Vyavahare lab.
What he discovered led to the inventions used today at Elastic of Life.
Calcification was occurring in the elastin fibers in the valve wall, where drugs and other anti-calcifying chemicals were unable to act.
He realized that this was the same problem in a range of other diseases where calcification stiffens arteries and other tissue.
In the 1990s, Dr. Vyavahare developed heart valve anti-calcification treatments that are utilized worldwide today. For more on that story see As part of that work he investigated why heart valves and their replacements calcify and stiffen, with resulting impaired functioning.
By combining a novel nanoparticle with an elastin-specific antibody and loading it with a well-known chelating substance, he was able to overcome the barrier.
Today, proof of concept for efficacy in vascular and pulmonary disease is published.
At Elastic of Life, we believe this heritage speaks volumes for a capacity to innovate, and bring those innovations into practice to improve quality of life for patients.
Patent Application published for
“Delivery Agents Targeted to Degraded Elastic Fibers”
Publication on targeted drug delivery to emphysematous lungs in
Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Read it here.
Patent application published for
“Delivery Agents for Targeted Treatment of Elastin Degradation”
Publication on targeted EDTA chelation therapy in
Journal of Controlled Release.
Read it here.
NIH Director highlights the achievements and potential of the findings.
Patent awarded for
“Elastin stabilization of connective tissue”
NIH Grant awarded for project “GAGs: Function &Fixation in Bioprosthetic Heart Valves”
which supported Vyavahare’s research with over $5.8 million until 2011.
NIH Grant awarded for project “Calcification of Elastin -- Mechanisms and Prevention” which supported Vyavahare’s work in this field with over $2 million through 2008.
Extensive research on bio-prosthetic heart valves and calcification in heart valves, resulting in products going to market.