While many companies are discussing how they will use nanotechnology to change the medical device industry, one firm is actually doing it. Biophan Technologies Inc. (West Henrietta, NY; www.biophan.com) has created a thin-film nanomagnetic coating that reduces image artifacts and enhances the visibility of implantable devices during MRI.
MRI is emerging as the preferred testing method for soft tissues and certain medical anomalies that may indicate such serious problems as heart attack or stroke. Though MRI has gained trust in the medical field, a catch-22 exists. Patients who have implantable devices are often those with histories of problems best detected by MRI. These are the people who would most benefit from an MRI, yet patients who have certain implantable devices are unable to undergo the process because of some implants’ incompatibility with the imaging technology.
In an effort to overcome this obstacle, Biophan developed a nanomagnetic coating that can be applied to implantable devices without negatively altering their properties.
“We discovered in the course of this work that there was also a problem with the visibility of implants during MRI; some devices created artifacts and others were invisible,” says Mike Weiner, CEO of Biophan. As a result, the company focused its energy on tailoring the coating to resolve the limited visibility problem that was plaguing MRI procedures.
The coating can be applied to virtually any implantable device and has a number of MRI-related uses, according to the company. Among the most common applications are guidewires, catheters, and stents. When applied to stents, the coating enables the doctor to check for restenosis, or renarrowing of the implant, via MRI, according to Weiner. Many metallic stents do not currently allow imaging of the stent interior and often create misleading imaging artifacts.
“Now, you have to do an invasive procedure called an angiogram to detect if a stent’s closed up or slightly closed up,” he says. “With our coating on a stent in the future, you’ll be able to just do an MRI and actually see inside the stent to see if it’s clogged and exactly how much. It’s a major breakthrough.” The same principle can also be applied to vena cava filters.
Another prospective benefit for implantable devices is the coating’s illumination of a catheter and its tip at any time under MRI. This capability may enable the guidance of a procedure while a patient is undergoing an MRI, according to Weiner. Furthermore, the company claims that the application of the coating to a range of implantables eliminates image artifact problems. In turn, healthcare professionals can view how well a device is situated in the surrounding tissue, an important detail doctors could not address with MRI in the past.
Biophan hopes that the integration of the coating on implantable devices, with its additional solutions for MRI safety, will open the door to expanded MRI use for procedures formerly deemed unsafe or ineffective when using MRI. “The nanomagnetic coating will allow better use of MRI diagnostics for the patients who have implantable devices, as well as allow procedures to be done under MRI that today can only be done under x-ray,” says Weiner.