From Texas Public Radio:
A professor with the University of Texas at San Antonio is trying to come up with a new way to treat a deadly health problem: abdominal aortic aneurysms. His work involves an investigational method to stop the aneurysm from growing so that it doesn’t burst.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms or “triple As” as they’re called affect 1 in 250 people over the age of 55. If the ballooned artery ruptures, 8 out of 10 patients die.
“People that have an aneurysm don’t know that they have one,” explained UTSA Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Ender Finol, Ph.D. “There are no symptoms associated with having an aneurysm, until the aneurysm is about to rupture.”
In the Vascular Biomechanics and Biofluids Lab, Finol and his team use a 3D printer to make models of actual patients’ triple As from data collected on scans. Then, they create plastic models and pump a blood-mimicking fluid through different life-like molds to test pressures and stresses.
“We have bench top models,” said graduate student Miru Thirugnanasambandam. “We’re very excited about it.”
The team is testing the application of a chemical compound called pentagalloyl glucose or PGG. It binds to proteins in the aorta and stabilizes the artery by keeping the aneurysm from growing.
“The idea is that once the compound is applied, the aneurysm is frozen in the sense that it’s not going to grow anymore,” Finol stated. “We’re trying to prevent, essentially, the rupture of the aneurysm altogether, not just prevent it from growing.”