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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Medical Device Developed at UTA Utilized in New Procedure for Infants

November 18, 2002

The American Heart Association has recognized research involving a bioresorbable vascular stent that was developed by Drs. Robert Eberhart and Shih-Horng Su while Su was a student in The University of Texas at Arlington’s Biomedical Engineering program – a joint graduate program with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Su’s work was conducted under the direction of Dr. Eberhart, UTA Biomedical Engineering professor and former director of the UTA – UT Southwestern Biomedical Engineering program.

One potential application of the bioresorbable stent is the treatment, without major surgery, of aortic coarctation in infants. Alejandra Garcia, a 4th-year medical student at UT Southwestern, described the procedure’s development Sunday at the American Heart Association’s meeting in Chicago. This represents work she did while a Sarnoff Fellow at Harvard Medical School in the lab of Dr. John Mayer of Boston Children's Hospital.

Aortic coarctation is a hardened narrowing of the aorta, the main trunk of the arterial system delivering blood from the heart to all the body except the lungs. The narrowing is obliterated with a stent-covered balloon inserted into the aorta. The balloon is expanded and contracted; the biodegradable stent remains in place to keep the vessel open. The stent is coated with endothelial cells, the normal lining of blood vessels, in a technique Garcia created at Boston Children’s Hospital. The endothelial cells resist fracture when the balloon expands the stent, so are able to protect the injured (expanded) vessel wall. The stent dissolves away with time, so a second surgery is not necessary, as it would be with a metal stent.

Drs. Eberhart and Su conducted the pioneering work for the development of an expandable, bioresorbable coronary artery stent with support from the National Institutes of Health. They were advised by UT Southwestern cardiologists Dr. Robert Meidell, Dr. Charles Landau and Dr. Peter Frenkel. They and other researchers in Dr. Eberhart’s lab, including Dr. Meital Zilberman, Dr. Kytai Nguyen, have extended the applications to other conduits, including the trachea, esophagus and urethra. In addition to mechanical support, the bioresorbable stent can be used as a vehicle for the delivery of drugs and gene therapy. A patent application has been filed on the device.