MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Researchers at the University of South Alabama are keeping pig arteries alive to test new ways of treating cardiovascular disease. Dr. Saami Yazdani, an Assistant Professor who specializes in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering is trying to find alternative ways of opening up clogged human arteries.
“So what we do is we go to a local butcher shop and we get an artery. Let’s say from a pig that you eat for barbecue. We keep that artery alive and we can actually maintain that artery alive in our little incubator here”.
A traditional heart stent is a small metal mesh that opens the artery and stays in the body. While that works well in the heart, stents in the legs tend to fracture over time because leg muscles twist and shorten.
Inside the incubator that keeps the pig artery alive, a machine moves the artery much like leg muscles would in a person while Yazdani and his team of students test two different techniques, both funded by The American Heart Association.
“One is a drug-coated balloon where we literally spray the therapeutic drug on a small little balloon and then we can put the balloon to where the disease is. So then you expand the balloon and the therapeutic drug comes in contact with your artery and so the artery where there’s disease gets the therapeutic drug.
Another procedure uses a profusion catheter. “You get it to where the disease is, but now without instead of using a balloon, we can actually just use a syringe and just at that target area we can deliver a therapeutic but in a liquid form.”
Yazdani says he believes in the next four to eight years approaches developed in his lab will translate to patients in clinical trials.
“Me being funded from American Heart and giving me money to do research for four years is essential for me to kind of prove my concepts. You know write papers, generate ideas, fund students, and so this really gives me a big push early on in my career to prove my…