In recent years, the number of blood vessel injuries from trauma and war has increased. Vascular surgeon Timur Sarac, MD, knows this all too well. While practicing at Cleveland Clinic, he has spent 16 years in the Army Reserves treating soldiers with life-threatening injuries.
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Understanding the need for speed in response to devastating blasts that rip into veins and arteries, Dr. Sarac set about developing innovative and fast treatments (based on previous Cleveland Clinic research). Dr. Sarac’s team is developing a new “bio-absorbable” tissue-lined stent graft to treat these types of injuries.
Traditionally metal mesh stents are used to open blocked vessels for heart and peripheral vascular disease patients. But, in cases where blood vessels are torn by injury, the only minimally invasive method to treat these is with a prosthetic stent graft. However, these treatments have a high failure rate.
The new hybrid technology of tissue and stent eliminates the need for a permanent stent. A biodegradable stent supports the vessels for three to six months while cells regenerate and create healthy new tissue. As the arteries heal, the stent dissolves and the blood flow is re-established to tissues and organs.
Beyond traumatic injuries
This exciting new therapy can provide treatment to any peripheral blood vessel injury with a minimal incision and fast recovery time. This applies to blood vessels in the legs for dialysis access.
Dr. Sarac currently has grants to develop this lifesaving technology—one from the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine and one from the National Institutes of Health, and Peritec Biosciences (a Cleveland Clinic startup company).
Trials and tribulations
It is taking time to develop the new stent. Preclinical work has determined that the most successful biodegradable stent is made with a special polymer material. And a new non-thermal laser is being used to cut stents to the appropriate sizes for the injury.
Dr. Sarac and his team are continuing to work on a delivery system that allows the stents to deploy accurately and quickly in the operating room. The new biodegradable stents are placed with a catheter to the correct position and self-expand without the use of a balloon.
Original devices took longer than 15 minutes to deploy. The recently completed new system allows the surgeon to get the stent to the right spot in seconds—saving valuable time.
Dr. Sarac states, “This new stent is the compilation of more than 15 years or work, and is a platform which has the potential to treat many disease processes. We are continuing to do preclinical testing.”