CLEARWATER – Morton Plant Hospital recently enrolled a patient in a clinical research trial for Absorb, a small mesh tube that is designed to open a clogged heart vessel, restore blood flow to the heart, and then dissolve into the blood vessel over time.
The clinical research trial is called ABSORB III, which is enrolling patients in the United States.
Absorb, manufactured by the global health care company, Abbott, is an investigational bioresorbable vascular scaffold that is the focus of ABSORB III, the first U.S. clinical trial to evaluate the potential benefits of Absorb in comparison to a medicated metallic heart stent, also called a drug eluting stent, in patients with coronary artery disease, a form of heart disease.
Morton Plant Hospital is among the few hospitals in the Tampa Bay area to be selected to participate in the ABSORB III trial, which is a double-blind research study which means neither the patient nor the doctor know if the research scaffold will be used.
“Normally, we have relied on metallic and drug eluting stents, to keep blocked arteries clear, which allowed many patients to avoid open heart surgery, but required patients to have a permanent metallic implant,” said Patrick Cambier, M.D., in a press release. Cambier is a Morton Plant Mease interventional cardiologist and co-principal investigator. “The hope of this research is that the Absorb device will allow us to use a similar procedure, but implant a device that will eventually dissolve after it has opened the artery and restored blood flow to the heart.”
Unlike a metallic stent that remains permanently in the body, Absorb is referred to as a scaffold to indicate that it is a temporary structure. The Absorb BVS is made of a naturally dissolvable material that is commonly used in medical implants such as dissolving sutures.
“Research indicates that the support provided to the coronary artery by a metal stent may only be necessary for a few months after the stent is implanted,” said Bernardo Stein, M.D., Morton Plant Mease interventional cardiologist and co-principal investigator. “In theory, the most significant potential advantage to an absorbable scaffold is that it not only provides the necessary support when needed after restoring blood flow, similar to a metallic stent, but also once the scaffolding is absorbed by the body, motion could return to the artery. Once the scaffold is implanted, it releases a medication intended to prevent restenosis (narrowing of the artery).”
The procedure is similar to angioplasty or stent placement. Absorb is placed into the artery on a balloon at the end of a thin, flexible tube. Absorb is expanded by inflating the balloon, pushing the plaque against the artery wall to enable greater blood flow. The balloon is removed, leaving Absorb to slowly release medication to the diseased area. With blood flow restored, Absorb begins dissolving.
Coronary artery disease, a narrowing of one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart, is a leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Patients with CAD can experience symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath when the demand for blood to the heart is more than the heart’s ability to supply blood due to blockages in the vessels that supply blood to the heart. These blockages are caused by the buildup of fat and cholesterol inside the vessel.