Medical stents are small tubes used to widen passageways within the body, such as the trachea and blood vessels. Traditional stents are made of anti-corrosion polymers or metals such as stainless steel, but the permanent presence of these stents can cause problems such as in-stent restenosis – the re-narrowing of an artery or other large blood vessel – and late thrombosis – or clotting.
“Unlike traditional medical stents, our bioresorbable stents are not permanent. They are engineered to disappear after the area around the stent has healed and regenerated,” said Don Zhu, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Our stents will be made of a new zinc-based biomaterial that provides strength, biocompatibility and full-biodegradability that matches the body’s natural healing process and pace.”
The bioresorbable stents also will be more cost effective in the long term because the degradation of the stents will decrease in-stent restenosis and late thrombosis, making it less likely that patients will be back in the hospital for a replacement stent, tissue graft or bypass surgery.