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Heart Disease Health Center

New Stents May Prevent Future Complications

New Form of Coated Stents Could Keep Arteries Unclogged Longer
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Jan. 26, 2004 -- A new form of coated stents may help repair clogged arteries and keep them running smoothly longer by stimulating the body's own healing powers.

Stents are metal mesh-like tubular structures that are surgically implanted to prop open blocked arteries and restore healthy blood flow to the heart in people with coronary heart disease. But a common problem with stents is that the treated arteries frequently become re-clogged because of a build-up of scar tissue, a condition known as restenosis, at the site or other complications.

Recently researchers have begun developing new, drug-coated stents to help reduce the build-up of scar tissue and prevent re-blocking of the arteries. The first of these drug-coated stents was approved for use in the U.S. in 2003.

But a study shows that an experimental new form of a stent coated with antibodies may offer an alternative method to prevent dangerous restenosis by harnessing the body's own natural defenses.

Building a Better Stent

Researchers say the drug-coated stent currently in use prevents restenosis by stopping the growth of cells within the stent. But this new form of stent is coated with specialized antibodies that work with the immune system to attract the growth of healthy cells and prevent future problems.

The results of preliminary laboratory and animal testing of the new stent were presented this week at the 16th Annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy in Miami Beach, Fla.

Researchers found antibody-coated stents were able to attract and bind healthy endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in live pigs that received the stents experimentally.

EPCs are cells that line the inner surface of blood vessels and can become damaged as a result of heart disease and narrowing of the arteries. This damage results in abnormal blood flow through arteries. By restoring a healthy layer of these cells in the diseased artery, researchers say the antibody-coated stents may help reduce the risk of restenosis.

Researchers say it's the first time a method's been shown to rapidly form a thin layer of these protective cells on a stented arterial surface. Further studies are needed if this layer can help prevent the risk of restenosis in humans.

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