Expert Resource On Revolutionary Drug-Coated Stents

Two Columbia scientists performed original research on the drug showing its effectiveness at preventing artery re-clogging


NEW YORK, N.Y. – Since 1994, doctors have inserted stents, tiny tubular scaffolds, into the arteries of 1 million people in the United States to hold a blood vessel open after balloon angioplasty expanded the vessel’s diameter. Yet, one third have to return to the hospital within a year when the stent itself clogs. But soon, a revolutionary new stent coated with a drug, called rapamycin or sirolimus, may be coming to America and could practically eliminate re-clogging, also known as restenosis. European regulators approved the use of the drug-coated stent in April. Now U.S. doctors and patients are awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval here for the device, which is undergoing clinical trials. But based on European data the drug-coated stent is hailed as a major breakthrough in the treatment of patients with heart disease. Few know, however, that the scientists responsible for the discoveries that led to the development of the coated stent work at the Center for Molecular Cardiology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. Dr. Andrew Marks, Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology, professor of medicine and pharmacology, and director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology, and Dr. Steven Marx, assistant professor of medicine/cardiology in the center, found 10 years ago that the drug – now being used in the stent – prevents the growth of cultured smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells in artery walls proliferate and migrate into vessel arteries after angioplasty and lead to the reclosure. The scientists also showed during the past decade that arteries from animals injected with the drug after a balloon angioplasty show 50 percent less vessel clogging than control animals. On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine will report results of a European clinical trial showing zero restenosis in patients who had a coated stent compared with 26.6 percent restenosis in patients with a standard stent. Dr. Andrew Marks is available to discuss his contributions to the creation of the drug-coated stents in light of the findings in the NEJM article.

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Andrew Marks, Drug Administration, JUNE, NEJM