Medical & Dental

€220k funding boost for German 3D printed cardiac stent research project

In 2015, coronary heart diseases killed 7.4 million people worldwide. Additive manufacturing technologies may now hold the key to drastically reducing this number, as the NewGen-Stent Research Project, dedicated to developing advanced heart stents receives €220 thousand of research funding from the Bavarian Research Foundation (Bayerische Forschungsstiftung).

The NewGen-Stent Research team. Photo via InTV.

Using the non-profit’s funding, the NewGen-Stent project is working with rapid prototyping manufacturer FIT Production GmbH to 3D print improved stents. These stents will be capable of targeted expansion, which will in turn reduce cardio-vascular injuries caused by the stretching of arteries.

Affairs of the Heart

As project leader Professor Ulf Noster notes, stents currently manufactured by traditional forming methods have several weaknesses.

“When stents are inserted into the widening of the vessel walls, injuries are also caused by the positive effects of the treatment”.

Noster, who was presented with the funding at a ceremony in Lupburg, also explained that current forming technology for manufacturing stents does not allow the design to be adjusted to accommodate targeted expansion. The new design aims to “more precisely control the widening of the vessel and thus minimize the risk of vascular injuries.”

He continued by stating that “compared to conventional forming technology with the following laser cutting, additive manufacturing offers the possibility to produce completely new stent geometries.” The metal-based stents will be produced with a cylindrical geometric structure in order improve the application.

Worldwide implications

3D printed stent technologies are transforming cardiovascular treatments. In May, researches in Eindhoven announced the development of 3D printed expandable, bio-degradable stents to reduce the need for invasive surgery. In March, a research group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, published a paper on developing a multi-drug eluting stent to replace metal stents.

A customized 3D printed stent inside a blood vessel from another project tackling using 3D printing for healthcare. Image via Northwestern University.

According to the WHO, individuals in middle to low income countries have poor access to detection and treatment for Coronary Heart Disease, while those suffering are kept in poverty via “catastrophic health spending and high out-of-pocket expenditure”. If the Next Gen Stent Project team are successful in their 3D printed cardiac stent research, it will have an impact worldwide.

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Featured image shows Prof. Ulf Noster demonstrating a large prototype of the geometric stent. Photo via InTV.