Public Release: 

Improved medical treatment of serious heart problems focus of UH-led group

AAAS symposium in Seattle to explain 'Optimal Stent Design for Cardiovascular Interventions'

University of Houston

HOUSTON, Feb. 16, 2004 - Suncica Canic, University of Houston mathematics professor, and her research group are presenting new findings related to the medical treatment of two serious heart problems at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle at 8 a.m. P.S.T., Monday, Feb. 16.

The main goal of her work is to help cardiologists gain deeper insight into the behavior of vascular prostheses, called stents, used in the treatment of aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA) and in coronary angioplasty.

The project is the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration Canic initiated between experts in cardiology, mathematics, biology, engineering and scientific computing to work on several problems related to the medical treatment of AAA and the treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD).

"Mathematical equations can be used to describe various physical, biological and physiological phenomena," Canic said. "Interaction between mathematics, engineering, biology and medicine has existed for a long time, but it has been only recently that state-of-the-art computer technology and scientific computing enabled true collaboration and full benefits to all the involved disciplines, as well as now bringing it to the human application stage. This is the first time in history that many complicated functions of the human body can not only be approximated with complicated mathematical equations, but also that solutions to those equations that cannot be found by hand can be calculated and visualized using super powerful computers."

One of the main focuses of the AAAS conference's "Symposium on Optimal Stent Design for Cardiovascular Interventions," led by Canic, will be to address the complicated set of problems in the mathematical and computer simulation of various cardiovascular diseases. In addition to Canic, who is the founder of this group, the other scientists involved in this interdisciplinary endeavor include Drs. Zvonko Krajcer and Michael Grad, interventional cardiologists at the Texas Heart Institute; Dr. Doreen Rosenstrauch, cardiologist with expertise in genetic engineering and hemocompatibility at the Texas Heart Institute; and Dr. Ravi-Chandar, associate director of the Research Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials at UT-Austin.

CAD is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States and in Europe, with approximately 12.8 million Americans suffering from CAD and nearly 500,000 of them dying from heart attacks caused by CAD each year. Stents are stainless steel or nytinol mesh-like tubes used to keep clogged coronary arteries open. A non-surgical treatment of CAD involves a revascularization or angioplasty procedure during which a stent is deployed in the artery by either expansion by a balloon or by a self-expanding delivery design. Various complications that include restenosis (re-narrowing) of the treated coronary artery are known to occur following the procedure. Lowering the restenosis rates by improved stent design is one of the goals of this group's research.

In the treatment of AAA, stents are used to direct the flow of blood through the middle of the aneurysm without touching the thin walls of the aneurysm sac whose rupture can be fatal. Complications of non-surgical treatment of AAA, such as stent migration, are known to occur in nearly 40 percent of procedures. By thoroughly investigating causes for the complications following non-surgical treatment of AAA, this group has developed several ideas about stent design that would minimize these complications.

The group's new products include genetically engineered cartilage cell coated stents (stent grafts) for the treatment of CAD and stents with novel mechanical properties that closely mimic the behavior of human arteries for the treatment of both CAD and AAA. These products could not have been obtained just a few years ago because many of the techniques used in the study rely on the most up-to-date bioengineering technology and on mathematical techniques that have only recently been developed.

Detailed descriptions of the problems and their solutions will be presented in this symposium. Krajcer and Grad will discuss actual patient cases and complications following non-surgical treatment of AAA. Chandar will cover optimal mechanical properties of stents for non-surgical treatment of AAA. Canic will explain blood flow though the stented aneurysm and optimal design of two-sleeved stents for non-surgical treatment of AAA. Rosenstrauch will finish with genetically engineered cartilage cell-coated stents for the treatment of coronary artery disease.


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