A collaboration of researchers from Purdue University and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is working on a new coating for brain stents that would attract healthy cells to settle around the implant. The proactive approach to treating aneurysms may help guide and accelerate the body’s natural healing processes.
Manufacturing of the implant involves an ion beam that is used to magnetize the nanocoating of a stent, that should help summon naturally magnetized cells to the area, and magnetized nanoparticles coupled with preselected cells may in the future be injected into the blood stream to quickly gather around the stent.
Though the technology is currently being developed for stenting applications, if successful, it should be rapidly transferable to other therapies when healing damaged tissue.
From Purdue’s announcement:
Cells needed to repair blood vessels are influenced by both the surface texture – features such as bumps and irregular shapes as tiny as 10 nanometers wide – as well as the surface chemistry of the stent materials.
“We are learning how to regulate cell proliferation and growth by tailoring both the function of surface chemistry and topology,” Allain said. “There is correlation between surface chemistry and how cells send signals back and forth for proliferation. So the surface needs to be tailored to promote regenerative healing.”
The facility being used to irradiate the stents – the Radiation Surface Science and Engineering Laboratory in Purdue’s School of Nuclear Engineering – also is used for work aimed at developing linings for experimental nuclear fusion reactors for power generation.
Irradiating materials with the ion beams causes surface features to “self-organize” and also influences the surface chemistry, Allain said.
The stents are made of nonmagnetic materials, such as stainless steel and an alloy of nickel and titanium. Only a certain part of the stents is rendered magnetic to precisely direct the proliferation of cells to repair a blood vessel where it begins bulging to form the aneurism.
Researchers will study the stents using blood from pigs during the first phase in collaboration with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The stent coating’s surface is “functionalized” so that it interacts properly with the blood-vessel tissue. Some of the cells are magnetic naturally, and “magnetic nanoparticles” would be injected into the bloodstream to speed tissue regeneration. Researchers also are aiming to engineer the stents so that they show up in medical imaging to reveal how the coatings hold up in the bloodstream.