SANANTONIO -- Local scientists are taking an innovation born at the University of Texas at San Antonio and turning it into a new medical device that could help thousands of people. It s an improvement in the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are a potentially deadly condition where the main vessel in the body balloons. If it ruptures, these aneurysms kill quickly.

Doctors can decrease the risk with a surgery that inserts a stent-graft, a metal cage with plastic material on it. But even those can leak.

When Jordan Kaufmann was a UTSA graduate student, she helped conceive an improvement. It s a stent-graft covered with a material made of fine plastic fibers that is biodegradable.

It has a structure that promotes cells from your own body to grow into it and form a new tissue, Kaufmann, now a Ph.D. biomedical engineer, explained. And after that tissue is formed, the scaffold material, the plastic, is reabsorbed and goes away and you re left with just the tissue.

Kaufmann worked in conjunction with UT Medicine cardiologist Dr. Steve Bailey and UTSA College of Engineering dean Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., on the project. They re launching Cardiovate, a technology start-up.

The environment we ve set up at UTSA helps students like Jordan work with their advisors and faculty to basically move those (ideas) even faster from the lab to the market, said Cory Hallam, director of the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) at UTSA.

Using tissue engineering to harness the body s own power to grow cells and repave the aneurysm wall means the risk of rupture goes down and there should be fewer complications.

I think that it s a fantastic DEVICE, Kaufman stated. I think it s going to be an evolution in the way that the endovascular aneurysm repair is performed. I think it s the next generation of that. We have had positive results so far.

In the United States, this new AAA stent-graft will have to be approved by the FDA as a medical device. It may be five or ten years before it is on the market.

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