News from LSU Health Shreveport

Dr. Samant Awarded LIFT2 Grant

Dr. Samant’s award will support his work on developing esophageal stents and advancing them for future use in a clinical setting.

Hrishikesh Samant, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at LSU Health Shreveport, has been awarded a LSU LIFT2 Grant for his project, “Bio-prosthetic Esophagus – Biodegradable, Stem-Cell Infused Esophageal Stents.” The LSU LIFT2 Fund was created by the LSU Board of Supervisors in 2014 to help “Leverage Innovation for Technology Transfer” across all campuses in the LSU system and support moving innovative concepts closer to commercialization.

Dr. Samant will use his LSU LIFT2 Grant award of $40,000 to validate the development of a bio-prosthetic, placental stem cell-infused esophagus technology as a platform for producing biodegradable, self-expandable and medication-loaded esophageal prosthesis/stent, which can be translated into clinical practice in the near future. The designs will be created through MRI scanning, modeling and bioprinting. J. Steven Alexander, PhD, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at LSU Health Shreveport, will be mentoring the 3D printing technology and incorporation of medications into the stent, which enhances bio-integration, limits infection and improves radiographic visibility.

Why is there a need for esophageal stents? An esophageal stent is device placed through constricted area of esophagus that allows food to pass from the mouth to stomach. Benign and malignant esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) are major reasons for placing a stent in esophagus. Other major reasons for using an esophageal stent is during closure of trachea-esophageal fistulas and spontaneous/iatrogenic esophageal holes.  

“Esophageal stents are lifesaving in these conditions as they prevent spillage of gastrointestinal contents into sterile mediastinum, and area of the body in the chest cavity between your lungs,” explained Dr. Samant. “Esophageal injuries due to trauma, burns or an esophagectomy to treat esophageal cancer often require removal of part or all of the esophagus, and gastric pull surgery to keep communication between mouth and intestine intact. These most complex digestive surgeries are associated with surgical connection complications that result in a prolonged hospital stay, cost burden, and increased morbidity and mortality.”

The use of self-dissolvable, flexible esophageal prosthesis in these settings is technically beneficial as it can be produced with 3D printing in large numbers and at a low cost. There is also a distinct advantage of size variability and the ability to incorporate stem cells, antimicrobial, anti-biofilm, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agents within the prosthetic model. Apart from cost effectiveness, these prostheses reduce risks associated with repeated endoscopic stent retrieval procedures. 3D printing technology will also give a unique control over defining the life expectancy of the prostheses making them function as a prosthetic esophagus to cover small anatomical defects and offering permanent solutions for preventing surgical anastomotic leaks. In addition, by modifying the shape and properties of prostheses or cross-linking material, a bio-prosthetic esophagus will be individualized for a patient’s specific need and help reduce some known complications of esophageal stents like migration, tissue ingrowth, and reflux. There is further excitement in this product since the prosthesis can be easily laced with chemotherapy drugs, which may open new horizon as localized therapy for malignant (cancerous) strictures of the esophagus.

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