THE National University Heart Centre Singapore (NUHCS) is taking part in two multi-centre clinical trials to test the latest in heart stents.
The first is a biodegradable stent that does the job of propping open an artery to prevent heart attacks and then disappears in nine months - leaving behind the healed natural vessel.
The other is a dual-drug coated stent where the inner surface is coated with antibodies that attract stem cells to itself to heal the blood vessel, and is coated with a drug on the outer surface that prevents abnormal growth of tissues over the stent itself.
Revealing this, Associate Professor Tan Huay Cheem, who heads NUHCS, said the centre will be recruiting up to 20 patients for the first trial, which will be completed 'in the next year or so'.
'We are looking at a target of 10 patients for the second trial on the Combo stent. We have enrolled four patients for this study already and our part of the trial should be completed by the third quarter of this year,' he said.
Cardiovascular disease is the top killer here, claiming 15 lives daily. Between 5,500 and 6,000 patients here - both locals and foreigners - go through angioplasty, the procedure to place a stent in an artery, each year.
A stent is a minute scaffolding used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries in the body to prevent stroke and heart attack. Currently, the two types of stents used are metal stents and drug-eluting metal stents.
'While metallic stents stay permanently in the arteries and could cause re-narrowing of the vessel or clots forming, a biodegradable one will dissolve over time and eventually be absorbed by the body,' Prof Tan said, adding that it took 'the last 20 years to try to perfect the biodegradable stent' and it would take at least another 10 years for it to be used in the treatment of patients.
'As it stands, it is more realistic to expect the Combo stent that uses a dual-coating technology to be used as a mode of angioplasty in the next few years,' said Prof Tan, who also chairs the organising committee for the 6th Asian Interventional Cardiovascular Therapeutics (AICT) Congress.
A team from NUHCS will be performing an angioplasty using the Combo stent at the centre and the procedure will be beamed live today to Marina Bay Sands, where the congress is being held. Also to be beamed live via satellite will be an angioplasty procedure done at the ThoraxCenter in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, using a biodegradable stent.
About 500 local and international delegates are attending the three-day conference, which showcases the latest in cardiovascular therapy.
Mooted by Singapore in 2005, AICT Congress is a platform for cardiovascular experts from the Asia-Pacific region to share the latest techniques and information on the treatment of diseases associated with the heart, arteries and veins.
The annual congress, which was held in Shanghai last year, is back in Singapore for a second time. It ends tomorrow.