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Evaluating a new way to open clogged arteries

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Computational model offers insight into mechanisms of drug-coated balloons.

Over the past few decades, scientists have developed many devices that can reopen clogged arteries, including angioplasty balloons and metallic stents. While generally effective, each of these treatments has drawbacks, including the risk of side effects.

A new study from MIT analyzes the potential usefulness of a new treatment that combines the benefits of angioplasty balloons and drug-releasing stents, but may pose fewer risks. With this new approach, a balloon is inflated in the artery for only a brief period, during which it releases a drug that prevents cells from accumulating and clogging the arteries over time.

While approved for limited use in Europe, these drug-coated balloons are still in development in the United States and have not received FDA approval. The MIT study, which models the behavior of the balloons, should help scientists optimize their performance and aid regulators in evaluating their effectiveness and safety.

“Until now, people who evaluate such technology could not distinguish hype from promise,” says Elazer Edelman, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and senior author of the paper describing the study, which appeared online recently in the journal Circulation. Read more...

An artery wall, with pieces of the balloon's drug coating attached.
Image: Vijaya Kolachalama