07 Oct 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: Researchers at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, New York, US, have embarked on a clinical trial to determine if a coronary stent that slowly dissolves into a vessel can effectively protect the heart and enhance the free flow of blood, according to a report published in Newsday.
Stenting has led to the expansion of cardiology departments in the nation's hospitals over the past two decades. More than 500,000 conventional stents are implanted annually in the US, said the report.
Conventional stents are tiny, metallic, mesh-like scaffolds that prop open vessels encumbered by biological goo -- plaque, dead cells and clotted blood -- that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The new one under study is made of a disappearing, biodegradable polymer that leaves behind no traces of its existence other than an opened and possibly more pliable vessel.
"Unlike metallic stents that stay within the vessels permanently, this stent completely dissolves within about two years after implantation," Dr Luis Gruberg, a professor of medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and director of interventional cardiology research told Newsday.
Being free of a permanent implant allows a vessel the possibility to regain some of its natural flexibility. At the same time, the medication impregnated in the dissolving stent helps prevent re-clogging.
Dr Gruberg said if the US Food and Drug Administration approves the new stent, patients will have an option that frees them from having a lifelong implant. The device is implanted via a balloon-tipped catheter, as are conventional stents. The catheter is threaded through a blood vessel in the groin to reach the blockage. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands and is locked in place.
Stony Brook University is one of four sites on Long Island and five in New York City participating in the nationwide ABSORB III clinical trial. The device was developed by California-based Abbott Vascular, a division of pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories, which is based in Illinois.
The study is a randomized, controlled, double-blind trial, which means some patients will receive a conventional stent, while others are implanted with a dissolving one. It's expected that more than 2,000 patients will be tested.