With approximately half a million people receiving implants each year in the U.S., stents have long been attractive for developers of degradable technology. Modern stents are coated with drugs that help prevent scar tissue from forming and plaque from reestablishing itself. More than a dozen companies have degradable stents in development.
Whereas some companies are developing stents made of iron and manganese-common nutrients that the body can easily break down-Abbot’s stent is made of poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA, a lactic acid chain that commonly used in medicine.
Once the entire drug is delivered, and the vessel has healed, the degradable stent gradually vanishes over the first few years.
“They are so different from metal stents we don’t even call them stents any more. We call them bio-absorbable scaffolds,” says Gregg Stone of Columbia University Medical Center, one of the lead scientists in the study, which was sponsored by Abbott.
In an Abbott-sponsored test begun in 2008 involving more than 2,000 people, the degradable stent performed as well as its metallic counterpart during the first year, although a longer comparison has not been conducted.