A product on drugstore shelves gives testament to the creative collaboration between the University of Mississippi, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the UM Medical Center. The product line, BluScience, contains pTeroPure® pterostilbene (pronounced “tero-STILL-bean”), a compound found in blueberries.
An analog to resveratrol, the compound that is thought to give grapes and red wine beneficial effects, pterostilbene is believed to help the body produce enzymes responsible for breaking down fats and triglycerides. In 2012, the compound underwent human clinical trials for safety and efficacy at the UM Medical Center. “We found reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients who received the high dose of pterostilbene, and reduced systolic blood pressure in patients who received the low dose of pterostilbene with grape extract,” said Daniel Riche, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at UMMC.
Agnes Rimando, a USDA research chemist, works at the National Center for Natural Products Research.
Allyson Best, Associate Director of Technology Management, exhibits pTeroPure.
Riche, who led the pterostilbene clinical trial, found it professionally and personally rewarding to study a compound with potential to help people in Mississippi, a place with high rates of cardio-metabolic diseases. One of Riche’s primary interests is complementary and alternative medicine, which he believes has great potential to impact metabolism.
“When something has potential in the area of cardiometabolics, it acts as a driving motivation for me to investigate,” Riche said. “It’s near and dear to my heart.”
pTeroPure’s success story has roots in the work of Agnes Rimando, a USDA research chemist working at the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research. In 2003, Rimando hypothesized that pterostilbene might be beneficial for treating conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. She asked Dennis Feller, former UM professor and chair of pharmacology, to collaborate on studies of the compound, targeting a particular protein in cells that is involved in fatty acid metabolism and transport. Results of their work were presented at the American Chemical Society’s 2004 meeting and attracted widespread attention, including coverage in national and international media sources.
Clinical trials at UMMC were completed in 2012. A confirmative safety study, an obesity study and a larger scale hypertension study may be conducted at the medical center. ChromaDex, a natural products company, licensed UM’s and USDA’s patent rights for commercial development and worked with Riche to complete the human trials.
“ChromaDex has been a great partner,” said Walt Chambliss, UM director of technology management. “The licensing agreement is a terrific example of how a collaboration between academic and government laboratories can lead to a commercial product, and pterostilbene is a great example of the multidisciplinary expertise we have at the university.”