The same type of stuff that protects your new carefully packaged electronics from unfortunate drops could soon protect your brain from potentially fatal aneurysms, thanks to a team of biomedical engineers at Texas A&M University.
Vascular aneurysms are typically treated by clipping them or implanting platinum coils or stents within to reduce pressure on the walls of the vessel and reduce the likelihood of a rupture. However, clipping is invasive and coils have their own set of risks to the patient and aren’t always effective.
The unique material being developed over at College Station is a special type of plastic called polyurethane-based shape memory polymer foam (SMP). SMP is demonstrating to be biocompatible and has the ability to be made into a primary shape and then transformed into another shape with an increase in temperature. The idea is that SMP will be inserted into a blood vessel and guided into the aneurysm in a compact form. Once inside the aneurysm, a laser will cause the SMP to expand and fill the aneurysm, filling with blood and forming a clot that in effect will plug the aneurysm.
So far, in vivo tests have been encouraging. The SMPs were found to successfully fill aneurysms in porcine models, promoted the proliferation of endothelial cells to help plug the aneurysm, and even led to long-term healing.
Here’s a video of Texas A&M biomedical engineering professor Duncan Maitland explaining more about SMPs and their potential medical applications:
News release from Texas A&M University: Texas A&M research using special foams to treat aneurysms…