MONDAY, Dec. 19, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Attaching healing genes to artery-opening bare metal stents could encourage the repair of surrounding blood vessels, researchers report.
"This is the first study to demonstrate successful delivery of a gene vector from a bare metal surface," study senior author Dr. Robert J. Levy, chairman of pediatric cardiology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a prepared statement.
The new technique may also cause less inflammation than stents with polymer coatings, the researchers add.
Stents are commonly used to prop open blocked blood vessels and improve blood flow. A gene vector is a biological substance that delivers a therapeutic gene to target cells.
Levy and his team created a water-soluble compound that binds to the surface of bare metal stents. When applied to the stent, this compound is only a single molecule thick. The compound holds and gradually releases adenovirus particles (the gene vector), which then deliver the therapeutic genes.
The technique has proved successful in tests with cell cultures and rodents, and the findings appear in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Different kinds of metallic implants are widely used in medicine, including artificial joints, orthopedic pins and rods, titanium tooth implants and pacemaker electrodes.
"The results of our study may have broader implications for other diseases in which implantable medical devices may be used to deliver gene therapy," Levy said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about stents.