An innovative medical discovery that has the potential to vastly improve the lives of people suffering from coronary artery disease was implanted in the first human patient in May 2003. The antibody coated stent, developed by Dr. Michael Kutryk, a cardiologist and clinician scientist with St. Michael’s Hospital and assistant professor, University of Toronto, was implanted into the first human patient at Thoraxcenter, University Hospital Rotterdam in Holland.
Stents are wire mesh tubes that have been used for years in interventional cardiology to clear blocked arteries and to improve the flow of blood to the heart muscle. However, traditional stents have been known to cause restenosis (re-narrowing of the artery in a treated area) and can lead to blood clots. Kutryk’s invention of the antibody coated stent reduces restenosis and prevents blood clots from occurring.
“This is a very exciting time to be working in the field of interventional cardiology,” says Dr. Kutryk. “When animal trials showed that antibody coated stents were successful in promoting healing and preventing restenosis, we knew this could potentially impact a large number of patients suffering from coronary artery disease.”
“If the implantation of the coated stent works in humans like it has in animals, it will be one of the biggest advances in cardiology we have seen to date,” says Dr. Patrick Serruys, cardiologist, University Hospital Rotterdam. “We have been calling Dr. Kutryk’s research a glimpse into the future. Today, that future is here.”
When placed into a blocked area of an artery, the antibody coated stent captures endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) circulating throughout the blood. Endothelial cells are cells which line blood vessels, allowing blood to flow smoothly. The EPCs adhere to the hard surface of the stent forming a smooth layer that not only promotes healing, but prevents restenosis (re-narrowing of the artery) and blood clots, complications previously associated with the use of stents.
In addition to improving outcomes for patients requiring stents, there are also implications for patients requiring cardiovascular bypass surgery. For example, a prosthetic vascular conduit (artificial artery) coated with anti-EPC antibodies would eliminate the need to use arteries from patients’ legs or arms for bypass surgery grafts. This would reduce surgery and anesthesia times which in turn will reduce coronary surgery deaths.
Dr. Kutryk’s research is supported by a grant from ORBUS medical technologies. The company contributed funding to the research, but had no input or influence over the research or conduct.