The Project

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in terms of both incidence and mortality, worldwide. With a median age at diagnosis of 71, lung cancer is mainly affecting the aging population. Airway stenosis is a key problem with significant morbidity and premature death. Endobronchial stenting is a proven therapy to keep the airways open. Nevertheless the currently used clinical stents have major disadvantages either by rapid re-occlusion due to tumour ingrowths (metal stents) or massive mucus retention due to the interrupted mucociliary function (coated stents).

The aim of the project is to develop a viable endobronchial stent (syn. PulmoStent) for the treatment of broncho-tracheal cancer diseases. The concept is based on the combination of stent technologies with the principles of tissue engineering. The PulmoStent is a multi-layered structure providing a functional respiratory epithelium on the luminal side, which allows the maintenance of the mucociliary function in the stented area, a mechanical separating layer on the external side, enabling a local tumour suppression to avoid stent displacement and restenosis by a growing tumour.

The PulmoStent is a step beyond the state-of-the-art from a passive to a viable and functional active implant tailored to the patient. It focuses on a clearly identified clinical need for the treatment of lung cancer. The combination of different kinds of biomaterials to a co-scaffold system for the bio-functionalization of the stent will lead to an improved performance of endobronchial stents and thereby to longer durability. The novel PulmoStent will improve the quality of life and increase the life expectancy of lung cancer patients, because of the reduced mucus retention in the stented area, and herewith the reduced risk of life-threatening pneumonia and the local tumour suppression.