Purdue U., U.S. Army explore nanotech-coated stent to combat brain aneurysms

Purdue University scientists are studying whether stents coated with a nanotechnology-enhanced drug could serve as potent treatment for aneurysms. And a lead researcher involved in the effort will speak before Congress on May 24 to talk about how nanotechnology could help treat brain injury and disease, Nanowerk reports.

The man set to testify--associate professor of nuclear engineering Jean Paul Allain--explains in the article that such a stent could be inserted at the aneurysm site in order to treat the affected blood vessel's inside lining. A bioactive coating on the stent, he notes, would amount to "using a regenerative approach, attracting cells to reconstruct the arterial wall."

Nanowerk explains that Purdue, U.S. Army and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center scientists (and other international partners) are working on the "bioactive" stent coating. (The U.S. Army is involved because aneurysms caused by bomb blast-related head trauma are on the list.) Initial research will involve pig's blood and the stents would be partially covered with the coatings in order to draw naturally "magnetized" cells to repair those blood vessels, the article notes. To boost that process, scientists see also injecting magnetic nanoparticles.

Treatments for aneurysms are more limited right now, including brain surgery where the swollen blood vessel sac is clipped. Another option is using a catheter by which a stent is implanted, but those options create numerous health risks.

One particular drug-coated brain stent already being used that risks a major setback is Stryker's Wingspan intracranial stent, which is designed to treat patients with multiple strokes due to intracranial artery blockage. It has been sold under a humanitarian device exemption since 2005, but an FDA advisory panel recently recommended that regulators re-evaluate whether Wingspan should be sold in the U.S. at all. That's in part because of an FDA report that determined the stent wasn't any more effective in stroke treatment/prevention than using blood thinners or other standard therapies.

- read the Nanowerk story