Destroying Tumor Cells With the Help of Polymer Stents
A research team from RWTH and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen is investigating the use of heatable stents in hollow organs as part of the ProNano2 program.
To date, tumors in hollow organs such as the bile duct have been associated with a poor survival prognosis for patients, since the tumor usually cannot be surgically removed. Today, cylinder-shaped mesh devices, so-called stents, are surgically inserted in order to temporarily open the hollow organs. However, due to tumor ingrowth, the stent must be replaced on a regular basis.
In the ProNano2 project, researchers from RWTH Aachen University and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen are pursuing an innovative approach using a special polymer stent that can be heated in a controlled manner with the help of nanoparticles. Hypothermia treatment, that is the treatment with heat, allows the tumor cells to be specifically targeted, because unlike healthy cells, they are irreversibly damaged at temperatures as low as 43 degrees.
First, the research team led by PD Dr. Ioana Slabu from the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering and Benedict Bauer from the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) at RWTH Aachen University is investigating the performance and effectiveness of the novel heatable polymer stent. This is intended to be both supportive and self-cleaning, and thanks to the damage it causes to the tumor tissue, the stent no longer has to be replaced in a risky operation.
Additional partners include PD Dr. Anjali Röth from the Clinic for General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery and Dr. Susan Stead from the RWTH Institute for Technology and Innovation Management. The project is to receive funding of 1.76 million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research until February 2026. It is planned to further develop and exploit the research results after project completion, possibly via licensing or the establishment of a spin-off company.
RWTH researcher Ioana Slabu (center), together with Benedict Bauer (right) and an interdisciplinary research team, has developed a tumor-destroying polymer stent. Anjali Röth (left) will lend her clinical expertise to the project.