In 2003, the FDA approved the first drug-eluting stent for use in the United States, which releases drugs that prevent cells from clumping in the arteries. Drug-eluting stents are now the primary choice for treating blocked arteries, but they also have side effects: The drugs can cause blood to clot over time, which has led to death in some patients. Patients who receive these stents now need to take other medications, such as aspirin and Plavix, to counteract blood clotting.
Edelman's lab is investigating a possible alternative to the current treatments: drug-coated balloons. "We're trying to understand how and when this therapy could work and identify the conditions in which it may not," Kolachalama says. "It has its merits; it has some disadvantages."
Modeling drug release
The drug-coated balloons are delivered by a catheter and inflated at the narrowed artery for about 30 seconds, sometimes longer. During that time, the balloon coating, containing a drug such as Zotarolimus, is released from the balloon. The properties of the coating allow the drug to be absorbed in the body's tissues. Once the drug is released, the balloon is removed.
In their new study, Kolachalama, Edelman and colleagues set out to rigorously characterize the properties of the drug-coated balloons. After performing experiments in tissue grown in the lab and in pigs, they developed a computer model that explains the dynamics of drug release and distribution. They found that factors such as the size of the balloon, the duration of delivery time, and the composition of the drug coating all influence how long the drug stays at the injury site and how effectively it clears the arteries.
One significant finding is that when the
|Contact: Sarah McDonnell|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology