Smart Stents project update

This project has finished. It was led by Professor Ruth Cameron at the University of Cambridge.


According to statistics published  in February 2018 by British Heart Foundation, there are an estimated 7 million people living with cardiovascular disease in the UK. Amongst these, 2.3 million people are to be living with coronary heart disease. This disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and in the UK alone, responsible for an average of 180 deaths each day [1]. It occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed as a result of deposition of atheromatous plaques within the arterial walls, causing partial or complete restriction of blood supply to the heart [2]. Minimally invasive surgical management, a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention, involves the placement of a coronary stent in the narrowed artery to widen its lumen, and restore blood flow to the affected myocardium. The number performed per year has increased ten-fold in the last 24 years between 1991 and 2015.  This number is only expected to increase with an aging population.  


Current drug-eluting stents are predominantly metallic and remain in the patient’s body indefinitely. This can cause complications such as inflammation, vessel straightening, late stent thrombosis and in-stent restenosis. In addition, permanent placement prevents the stented-vessel from being restored to a normal physiological state and may block operative access for a future surgery. Bioresorbable polymeric stents can overcome these problems by degrading and being absorbed within the body over a period of time, after mechanical support is no longer required.  However, they can exhibit stent elastic recoil, strut fracture upon over-expansion and can be bulkier than metallic stents. To address these limitations, we are developing next-generation bioresorbable stents using novel bioresorbable polymers and exploiting 3D printing techniques. These techniques would enable production of personalised and patient-specific stents using information from 3D segmentation of the patient’s medical imaging, printable on demand within 20 minutes in the clinic.  In this way, a patient with atypical artery anatomy could be better treated, with the 3D-printed stent much more effectively matching the patient’s unique blood vessel contours. 


FAST Healthcare NetworksPlus has not only given us the opportunity to test our hypotheses through this initiator project but also allowed us to form a multi-disciplinary research team involving early career researchers, experts and clinicians in the field. A new collaboration between universities and hospitals has been established through this network and we are working together to fabricate a proof of concept 3D printed coronary resorbable stent prototype.  


[1] “BHF CVD statistics Factsheet - UK” at accessed on 05/03/2018 

[2] Neamtu, I., Chiriac, A.P. and Diaconu, A. et al. “Current concepts on cardiovascular stent devices” (2014) Mini Rev Med Chem. 14(6):505-536