Cardiologists may be able to improve outcomes in heart patients
with a drug-coated stent based on an invention by National Institute
on Aging senior investigator Dr. Steven J. Sollott and former NIA
senior investigator Dr. James Kinsella. Sollott and Kinsella recently
were recognized for their innovation in this area with two awards.
The Intellectual Property Owners Association named the duo as
one of the top five contenders for its Inventor of the Year award
last June. The top-five citation is the first for an NIH nominee.
Last September, the Federal Laboratories Consortium bestowed its
regional award on Sollott and Kinsella for inventing a new way
to use a cancer drug that was incorporated into a drug-coated stent.
The award recognizes laboratory employees who have accomplished
outstanding work in the process of transferring a technology developed
by a federal laboratory to the commercial marketplace.
The medical device, Taxus Express2, approved in 2004 by the Food
and Drug Administration, consists of a stent coated with paclitaxel,
the chemotherapy drug also known as taxol. After angioplasty, a
tiny mesh-like device called a stent is inserted into the artery
to keep it propped open. The drug paclitaxel is enclosed in a timed-release
polymer so that it is dispensed into the tissue slowly to prevent
restenosis, the re-blocking of the artery. In several studies,
researchers have found that the drug-device combination reduced
restenosis rates to as low as 3 to 6 percent, compared to rates
in patients with bare-stent angioplasty of 25 to 30 percent. This
reduction has resulted in far fewer return visits to the catheterization
lab or operating room for cardiac patients, the researchers note.
The long road to discovery began in 1993, when Sollott and Kinsella
reasoned that since changes that occur in blood vessel cells after
angioplasty mimic the changes seen in cancer cells (abnormal growth,
movement, etc.), a diluted form of paclitaxel might be used to
The device is one of a new generation of coated stents. In 2003,
Cordis Corp., a Johnson & Johnson company, received approval from
the FDA for its stent coated with sirolimus, a drug usually used
to prevent rejection in organ transplants. Drug-coated stents,
which are currently estimated to be used in more than 500,000 cases
in the U.S. annually, are expected to substantially reduce the
number of open-heart bypass surgeries.