Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Non-slip tracheal implants

If a person‘s windpipe is constricted, an operation in which the surgeon inserts a stent to enlarge the trachea is often the only way to relieve their respiratory distress.

But this grid-like implant can slip out of position, closing off the windpipe altogether. Researchers are working on a special surface coating for the stents to keep them in place.

A new protein coating is designed not only to enhance incorporation of respiratory stents in the
surrounding tracheal tissue, but also to lower the risk of infection for patients. (© Leufen Medical GmbH )

When coronary blood vessels are constricted, cardiologists try to prevent a heart attack by widening them with small grid-like implants called stents, which stabilize the veins and arteries, improve the flow of blood and prevent vascular obliteration. A lesser known fact is that stents can be used to treat pathological constriction of the windpipe.

This kind of respiratory stenosis, which may be caused by tumors, chronic infections or congenital deformities, can be life-threatening. The metal or plastic stents are designed to enlarge the trachea and prevent it from closing up altogether.

But complications can arise when the implants are inserted. Firstly, there is the danger that the stents will shift, thus partially or completely obstructing the respiratory tract. Secondly, bacteria can colonize the stents and trigger pneumonia. The reason for this is that the stents have no barrier-forming cells of the kind usually present in the respiratory system, whose task is to fend off bacteria and inhaled substances such as particulate. “The windpipe has an important barrier function, with goblet and cilia cells purifying the inhaled air. It is very important that cells like these can adhere to the stents so as to maintain the air-purifying effect of the damaged section of the windpipe and to promote incorporation of the stents in the surrounding tracheal tissue,” says Dr. Martina Hampel, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart. Together with Prof. Dr. Thorsten Walles, head of the department of thoracic surgery at the University Hospital of Würzburg and a visiting scientist at the IGB, Dr. Hampel and her team took part in the “REGiNA” project, the goal of which was to develop surface coatings that enable the stents to be incorporated in the surrounding tissue, thus reducing the risk that they will move. REGiNA, a German acronym for Regenerative Medicine in the Neckar-Alb and Stuttgart Region, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.

Bioactive coatings lower the risk for patients
The scientists used stents lined with a polyurethane (PU) film, which were produced by Aachen-based Leufen Medical GmbH. In the ensuing tests, a wide variety of different coatings were applied to the PU film: In addition to synthetic polymers composed of organic acids, the researchers also tried out biological proteins such as fibronectin and type-I collagen. The coating was modified again using plasma technology, with vacuum-ionized gas being used to treat the surface. The experts used an untreated PU film for control purposes. “In order to find out which of the surface coatings was the most suitable, we brought both lab-cultivated cell lines and human primary tracheal epithelial cells into contact with the films in cell culture vessels. What we wanted, of course, was for the primary respiratory cells from human tissue to attach themselves to the film,” explains Hampel. The researchers achieved their best results with the protein-coated film, on which the primary tracheal epithelial cells grew particularly well and multiplied. “The respiratory cells proved to be more vital on bioactive films rather than on ones treated with plasma. By contrast, polymer-coated film turned out to be completely useless,” says Hampel.

The laboratory tests have since been completed, and animal tests are in preparation. If the good lab results are confirmed in these tests, the next step will be to conduct clinical trials of the modified stents at the Schillerhöhe specialist lung clinic, part of the Robert Bosch Hospital. “We hope that, within just a few years, our well-tolerated, cell-compatible surface coatings will be used for other biomedical prostheses such as pacemaker leads, tooth implants and replacement joints,” says Hampel.

Dr. rer. nat. Martina Hampel | Fraunhofer-Institute
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>