With medicine being a field to many immediately disrupted by 3D printing innovation, now the medical community is getting behind the innovation to turn it into new solutions to old problems. This is particularly evidenced by news which Florida Atlantic University has just attained a grant of the National Institute of Health to create a 3D printed stent to treat esophageal cancer.
Whilst it is the eighth many common form of cancer, the treatment of esophageal cancer has so far proven complex, with 50 to 60 percent of patients ineligible for surgery due to late tumor detection or metastases which cannot be removed surgically. In turn, inoperable esophageal cancers are treated with an implanted metal mesh stent. Unfortunately, these devices can cause such complications as bleeding, perforation, chest pain, and tumor ingrowth. For this reason, Dr. Yunqing (Kevin) Kang, Ph.D., a bioengineer in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University, has been awarded a $141,743 grant of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to turn it into a new stent which may alter the way this cancer is treated.
With the funds, Dr. Kang, the principal investigator and assistant professor of biomaterials and regenerative medicine in FAU’s Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, can create a biodegradable polymer stent which not just prevents the aforementioned complications synonymous with metal stents, but can in addition be capable of bringing anti-cancer drugs for treating esophageal tumors and prevent tumor tissue ingrowth.
To turn it into the stent, Dr. Kang and his team can be 3D printing the device of biodegradable elastomeric polymer materials. This can allow the device to maintain rigidity, while in addition ensuring which it is flexible adequate to contract with the esophagus. And, via the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel (PTX), the stent can in addition treat the cancer. And, while it’s not explicitly noted in the news release, it’s really possible which these stents may be customized to the patients by creating them based off of MRI or CT scans.
Dr. Kang says which this sort of drug delivery approach was previously not easy, “Currently, there are no stents which are on the market in a clinical setting which have the capacity of preventing or decreasing the complications, and at the same time providing the capcapacity of bringing cancer therapy drugs.” He continues, “Because our materials can be created of biodegradable polymer, they can dissolve and disappear after the stent is surgically placed into the patient’s esophagus. Once treatment is accomplished, it won’t be necessary for the surgeon to remove the stent, producing the system and treatment much additional effortless for the patient.”
Dr. Mohammad Ilyas, Dean of FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, adds, “Dr. Kang’s innovation is a game alterr for how esophageal cancer may be treated in the next. The physiochemical, drug-release and biocompatibility properties of this stent may have a wider impact on the treatment of esophageal cancer and the require for tissue-engineered stents for esophagus regeneration after surgical removal.”
This is great news for the approaching 16,980 adults which can be diagnosed with esophageal cancer this year, according to Cancer.net. Hopefully, Dr. Kang’s research can not just donate additional credence to the future of 3D printing in the medical field, but assist save a few lives, as well. And, if this device can be utilized to treat esophageal cancer, it may be possible which much like devices may be utilized to treat other cancers, too.