WSU professors' research could enhance quality of human life
Coronary stents have saved a lot of lives over the years, but there is a growing interest in what happens when a stent stays inside the body for too long.
With that in mind, Wichita State assistant industrial and manufacturing engineering professor Anil Mahapatro is focusing his research on the investigation of biodegradable metallic stents.
Mahapatro, who came to WSU in August 2011, is collaborating with associate mechanical engineering professor Ramazan Asmatulu and Li Yao, assistant biology professor.
The goal of their research is to someday develop metallic implants, including cardiovascular stents, that will safely dissolve inside a person’s body.
“There exists a critical clinical need, as well as a growing interest, in development of biodegradable stents,” Mahapatro said.
About biodegradable stents
A biodegradable metal is a metal that would degrade inside the body without causing any harm to the human body. Biodegradable metallic implants are being explored for applications that currently use permanent metallic implants but do not required those implants to be in the body lifelong.
Examples include cardiovascular stents and orthopedic fracture fixation devices. Coronary stents are placed during a percutaneous coronary intervention procedure, better known as an angioplasty, for treating coronary artery diseases resulting from narrowing of coronary arteries.
A stent is a tubular mesh-like scaffold that is placed and expanded inside a coronary artery during angioplasty.
There have been many arguments within the medical research community over the potential benefits of having the stent removed after 12-18 months, by which time most of stents have fulfilled their purpose.
Mahapatro said the most obvious argument for stent removal is the fact that the stent is a foreign object, and its presence is associated with the potential for inflammatory reactions and other damage.
Researchers also worry that the long-term presence of a stent could cause remodeling of the arterial wall in a person’s heart.
But a biodegradable stent would provide a temporary opening to a narrowed arterial vessel. When the vessel is fixed, the stent would progressively disappear.
A successful biodegradable stent could possibly phase out other long-term clinical problems sometimes associated with traditional metallic implants, Mahapatro said.
Contributing to society’s well-being
The research being done by Mahapatro, Asmatulu and Yao includes the testing of magnesium-based alloys as possible metallic biodegradable stent material.
Typically, pure magnesium corrodes too quickly, losing its mechanical integrity before the tissue has had time to heal.
One of the focuses of their research is to develop surface coatings and modification strategies to control and slow the biodegradation rates of magnesium-based materials.
Mahapatro’s interest in this line of work started with casual discussions with clinicians and slowly evolved from there.
“Being involved in biomaterials and biomedical engineering research enables me not only to be involved in basic and applied research, but also in contributing to the well-being of the society by developing medical technologies that improve and enhance the quality of human life.”