Using their simplified model, Canic and her collaborator have examined the designs of several stents on the market to see which structures seem to be best for specific blood vessels or procedures. For instance, they found that stents with an "open design"where every other horizontal rod is taken outbend easily, which makes them good to put in curvy coronary arteries.
Canic has also used the model to design a stent with mechanical properties specifically tailored to an experimental heart valve replacement procedure. She found that this specialized stent works best for the procedure when it's stiff in the middle and less stiff at the ends.
And she has found that combining bendiness with radial stiffnesswhere you can bend the stent into a U shape, but you can't squeeze the tube shutproduces a stent with less chance of buckling than those that are currently in use.
The most rewarding part of her work, says Canic, is that "we can use mathematics for something useful, connected to real-world problems." She reports that her collaborators are already putting the results of her simulations into practice.
Her greatest challenge, meanwhile, is serving as an ambassador of mathematics to the medical and bioengineering communities.
In the beginning, she says, it was difficult to collaborate with people from different disciplines who speak different scientific languages. "But once they saw that there is a lot of information there that could be helpful, it has been much easier," she says. "Now people want to talk to us from the medical center. They come to us and ask questions, and that's good."
Today, Canic is helping a team at the Texas Heart Institute study an unusual source for stent coating: ear cartilage. The team believes this easy-to-harvest tissue will make stents more biocompatible, though they don't yet know how ear cartilage cells grow or behave in environments like human blood vessels.
|Contact: Emily Carlson|
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences