USF Research News

USF Researchers Discover Organic Compounds to Improve Heart Health and Small Vessel Disease

March 25, 2015

USF Researchers Discover Organic Compounds to Improve Heart Health and Small Vessel Disease

TAMPA, Fla. (March 25, 2015) - University of South Florida scientists have identified a group of compounds with the potential for beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and small vessel disease while researching grape seed extracts discovered at USF. This novel and patented technology was exclusively licensed from USF to Phoinix Holdings, LLC, to commercialize a variety of new products in the cosmetic, wound care, medical device, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food, beverage and animal industries.

The grape seed extracts were investigated by David Fitzpatrick, retired professor in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, Morsani College of Medicine, USF Health, and Rebecca O'Malley, retired professor emeritus in Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences at USF, while examining the so-called French paradox, an epidemiological finding that the French enjoy a high fat diet without suffering from high incidence of heart disease. Fitzpatrick believed that the link was related to the consumption of red wine, and after years of research, they discovered of a group of compounds known as galloylated epicatechins, which can be extracted from various natural sources.

While examining these compounds, Fitzpatrick and O'Malley were able to demonstrate the effects they had on the cardiovascular system by stimulating the relaxation of blood vessels when the compounds were administered in a laboratory model.

"We are excited to partner with Phoinix to develop novel, patented dietary supplements containing galloylated procyanidins," said Donna Herber, senior licensing manager at USF. "These compounds have been scientifically shown to induce relaxation in blood vessels. Unlike other extracts on the market, Phoinix's products will have unique ingredients with unique biological effects."

"This new technology will transform the future of human and animal health, and has the ability to make existing products on the market work more efficiently and effectively," said J.R. Huddleston, co-founder of Phoinix Holdings, LLC.

Phoinix seeks to utilize the biological effects of these extracts through a variety of product offerings. The company has received seed funding through the USF Research Foundation Seed Capital program.

The University of South Florida System is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.

Phoinix Holdings, LLC is a University of South Florida spin out company, a member of the Tampa Bay Incubator and part of USF CONNECT. The company commercializes patented breakthrough healthcare/life science technologies developed by USF research scientists that make life easier and better for all living things. Phoinix Holdings, LLC is actively pursuing strategic relationships in the cosmetic, animal, wound care, medical device, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food and beverage industries. Contact: Mike Sperduti, 631-923-0223,

Media Contact:
Lauren Golin (USF Research & Innovation)
(813) 974-0102