Traditional methods of treating blood vessel blockages include the use of bare metal stents (designed to keep the vessel open) or drug eluting stents (metal stents treated to release specific drugs). With the advent of bioengineering, several companies are now focusing on using biodegradable scaffolds that completely break down into smaller components to be reabsorbed by the body. Now, researchers from Seoul National University have developed a stent that is not only bioresorbable but also has several other features built into it. The stent, made of a magnesium alloy, incorporates nanoparticles that act as antioxidants to reduce the level of damaging reactive oxygen species, nanospheres with anti-inflammatory drugs that can be triggered using directed infrared light, flow and temperature sensors for physiological sensing, and an array for data storage. While all the components have been individually tested before in different settings, this is the first effort where such a diverse range of components have been incorporated into stents to make them multifunctional.
The study, published in ACS Nano, tested the feasibility and safety of the stents using a canine model; however, some of the components used in the stent would have to go through regulatory approval before its use in humans.The team now plans to focus on developing a method to incorporate wireless batteries and data communication into the stent design.