Coronary artery disease – a leading cause of death in the US – narrows or blocks arteries that carry a vital supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart. A stent can be inserted to widen the artery, but these devices must be closely monitored to ensure that they do not re-narrow, a common complication called restenosis.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Youngjae Chun, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, will lead a study to develop an electronic stent that can be implanted in a minimally invasive procedure and measure significant physiological changes with the development of restenosis. The device will provide real-time monitoring to help prevent subsequent heart attack or stroke.
The project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is in collaboration with W. Hong Yeo, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, and McGowan Institute affiliated faculty member John Pacella, MD, cardiologist at UPMC, who also holds a secondary appointment in bioengineering.
This work is a continuation of the group’s 2019 Innovative Project Award from the American Heart Association.
“Though similar devices already exist, they are typically bulkier and do not work as effectively with the growth of artery tissue,” said Dr. Chun.
This new device has an ultra-low profile sensor, which allows it to work without a battery and wirelessly monitor the restenosis progress. They believe that this device can easily integrate with commercially available stents without disturbing its functionality. With this design, users will be able to see real-time data on a smart device, rather than scheduling endless follow-up visits to the doctor.
The group will use computational modeling and calculation to carefully design the device, and then it will then be fabricated using a novel nanoscale printing technique. Once it is developed, they will evaluate the design in vitro to determine its functionality with a stent.
Previous sensors are only able to monitor stents for a few days or weeks after the implant procedure, but their design will be able to continuously monitor, providing a unique, long-term solution.
Dr. Chun said, “This kind of translational research is a strength of the University of Pittsburgh, and we hope that this technology can eventually be expanded to other endovascular devices where specific physiological changes in our vascular system are a factor in the remodeling process.”
Illustration: Surgeons can widen arteries and implant a stent during a balloon angioplasty procedure. The stent needs to be closely monitored to make sure it does not re-narrow. Credit: Shutterstock.