Stents that keep weakened and flabby arteries from collapsing have been true life-savers. But after six months, those stents are no longer needed -- once the arteries are strengthened, they become unnecessary. Previously, doctors had no choice but to leave them in place.
Prof. Meital Zilberman of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biomedical Engineering has developed a new patent-pending fiber platform that carries drugs where they're needed, then dissolves.
"Our new composite fibers consist of a strong core coated with a drug-releasing, or 'eluting,' solution. They combine strength with the desired elements necessary for drug delivery, so they can be used as the basis of biodegradable drug-eluting stents," says Prof. Zilberman.
Her unique coating technology, she adds, can be used to coat both metal stents, which are currently available, and the biodegradable stents now in development.
Controlling the flow
"The main problem with drugs used on stents is that coating manufacturers have been unable to develop a method for releasing them in a controlled manner," explains Prof. Zilberman. Insoluble in water, these drugs do not release well from a coating, she explains. A coating made from an extremely porous structure like hers, however, provides a large surface area for diffusion. This gives heart specialists "a desired release profile."
Pre-programmed to release the drugs in a controlled manner, Dr. Zilberman's patent-pending fibres can also be designed to dissolve within a precise number of months, so the stent can do its work, then disappear.
Fibers to mend cancers and brain tumors
Prof. Zilberman says that her biodegradable drug-eluting fibers only five times the thickness of a human hair can be applied in cancer treatments as well, particularly for cancers in hard to reach and sensitive areas such as in the brain, or in small children, she notes.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University