ECMI Special Interest Group: Advancing the design of medical stents

Arterial stents have revolutionised the treatment of coronary heart disease (CHD). Acting as a supporting scaffold, these small mesh devices are now routinely inserted into arteries where the blood flow has become dangerously restricted. Over the past decade, arterial stents have evolved from bare metal scaffolds to polymer coated drug-delivery vehicles and, more recently, sophisticated fully biodegradable drug delivery configurations. Despite these advances, significant opportunities to improve on arterial stent design remain and considerable research budgets are currently dedicated towards this challenge. In particular, research is focussed on the development of stents which accelerate the healing process to minimise thrombosis risk and which can be used in previously unserved patient groups and lesion types.

The relative success of coronary artery stenting has led to the emergence of stenting technology for the carotid, neural and peripheral vasculature. In addition, the adaptability of the stent concept has opened horizons beyond the vasculature, with stent technology now being developed for, amongst others, pulmonary, gastro-intestinal and structural heart applications.

The challenging problems in this area require an international and interdisciplinary team of mathematicians, engineers, life scientists, clinicians and industry.

Therefore a special interest group (SIG) in ‘Advancing the design of medical stents’ was launched at the workshop ‘Next generation medical stents: scoping the future in the University of Limerick on 4th September, organized by Dr Tuoi Vo, a postdoctoral researcher at MACSI, University of Limerick.

The workshop brought together over 40 participants including modellers, cardiologists and experimentalists from Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Portugal and the USA and industrialists from Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Veryan Medical (Ireland), CBSET (USA), Instent (France) and Vascular Flow Technologies (UK). In October 2015, the SIG has been approved officially by ECMI.

Stent_workshop

Ideas from several branches of mathematics are required to successfully tackle these challenging problems. Our group are already applying ideas from continuum mechanics, mathematical biology, structural and soft tissue mechanics, numerical analysis and multi-objective optimisation, to name but a few.

But the scope is far wider: for example, agent based models and machine-learning approaches may well find application here.

The aims of this SIG are:

  • To provide a platform to co-ordinate research efforts and help expedite the development of novel stent designs and technologies
  • To provide a forum for multidisciplinary interaction between academics, clinicians and industry
  • To utilize our position of strength to leverage funding from bodies such as the European Union

Activities of the group include:

  • Visits of experts
  • Submission of joint funding applications
  • Mini-symposium and group meeting at the 19th European Conference on Mathematics for Industry (ECMI 2016)
  • Stent Workshops in the UK/Europe
  • Establishment of a biannual newsletter to keep members up-to-date on the latest research, publications, grants awarded and vacancies.

Participation in the group is without formal obligations on the members.

To become a member, please contact Dr Tuoi Vo (tuoi.vo@ul.ie) or Dr Sean McGinty (sean.mcginty@glasgow.ac.uk).

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