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Smart Stents – Innovative Stent Design
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Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world. An increasingly common form of treatment for this disease involves implanting a stent an artery where a blockage is present. Each year, this type of treatment helps in saving the lives of many people who would otherwise suffer from heart attacks that result from blockages in blood vessels. The stents available today are considered state-of-the-art. However, researchers are constantly attempting to improve what exists today to create a better product for the future.

Current state-of-the-art stents can be life-savers, but like any other mechanical product they can be improved upon. The stents used at present are sometimes inflexible and may not behave in the same way that a blood vessel inside the body would. This can result in stresses within the walls of the blood vessels, to which the body may react negatively. Additionally, when the stents are deployed, they tend to get shorter and this may cause some difficulties in the correct placement of the stent within the vessel.

Professor Joseph N. Grima, Dr Ruben Gatt and Dr Daphne Attard from the Metamaterials Unit at the Faculty of Science and cardiac surgeon Dr Aaron Casha from the Faculty of Medicine within the University of Malta, in collaboration with HM RD Ltd, part of the HalMann Vella Group of Companies, and Tek-Moulds Precision Engineering Limited are attempting to solve these issues through innovative stent designs. With the help of funding received from the Malta Council for Science and Technology through its R&I programme, the University team of researchers is proposing and attempting to patent new geometries which can help to minimise the negative effects of current stent designs.

Stent insertion is, therefore, made easier for the doctor, giving a better result to the patient. Such interventions would be more efficient, reducing operating times and costs while sparing the patients from undue stress.

The required design protocol entails very careful, rigorous and intricate work. The process can be a lengthy one, as each step of the way necessitates full protection for the end-users, the future patients. It requires firstly many clinical trials before eventual licensing by the relevant authorities allowing entry into the commercial field.
The Smart Stents project has won a Gold medal award for Best Inventor by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Award for Scientific Innovation of the Malta Innovation Awards 2011.

Smart Stents


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