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New Electronic Stent Could Provide Feedback and Therapy — Then Dissolve
Every year, an estimated half-million Americans undergo surgery to have a stent prop open a coronary artery narrowed by plaque –– but sometimes the mesh tubes get clogged.
In the journal ACS Nano, scientists have reported a new kind of multitasking stent that could minimize the risks associated with the procedure. The new stent can sense blood flow and temperature, store and transmit the information for analysis, and be absorbed by the body after it finishes its job.
Doctors have been implanting stents to unblock coronary arteries for 30 years. During that time, the devices have evolved from bare-metal mesh tubes to coated stents that can release drugs to prevent reclogging, but even these are associated with long-term re-endothelialization and inflammation, which are difficult to diagnose or treat. Researchers, therefore, have been working on designing stents that the body can absorb to minimize the risk that a blood clot will form. Now collaborating scientists in the U.S. and Korea are taking that idea a step further.
The investigators have developed and tested in animals a drug-releasing bioabsorbable electronic stent (BES) that can provide diagnostic feedback by measuring blood flow, which slows when an artery starts narrowing. The device can also heat up on command to speed up drug delivery, and it can dissolve once it’s no longer needed.
Sources: ACS; May 27, 2015; and ACS Nano; April 23, 2015.