How stents could be eliminated from angioplasties and bypasses

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[Image from the University of Wisconsin-Madison]

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Ohio State University have developed a strategy for keeping blood vessels open following angioplasties and bypasses.

When patients have clogged arteries, they usually have to go through a procedure to open the vessel with a balloon called an angioplasty and have a stent placed inside the vessel to keep it open. Some stents are also designed to release drugs to prevent future clogs. Drug-eluting stents may stop the overgrowth of smooth muscle cells that could cause vessel re-narrowing, but the drugs could also poison the endothelial cells that form the inner wall of the blood vessel. The presence of a stent in the body can also increase the risk of blood clots.

The researchers suggest that they can suppress smooth muscle cell growth while protecting endothelial cells and allow them to regrow after surgery. One of the researchers, Shaoquin Gong, developed drug-loaded nanoclusters coated with a biomembrane that can safely deliver a drug to allow for regrowth.

Doctors can inject the nanoparticle through an IV as the biomembrane coating guides the drug to a targeted location.

“You want to deliver your drug more specifically to the injured vasculature,” Gong said in a press release.

Gong and the other researchers received a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create a stent-free approach with nanoparticles for drug delivery. The grant builds upon studies from Ohio State researchers that identifies potential drug targets.

The research was published in the Biomaterials journal.

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