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Early infection and rejection detection

TROY, N.Y. Julie Stenken, associate professor of analytical chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., has received a four-year, $750,000 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) to develop a new technique that can be used to study the body's reaction to medical implants at the cellular level. Millions of medical devices, including catheters, pacemakers, vascular grafts, and glucose sensors, are regularly implanted into humans. Despite the frequency of these procedures, implantation still poses a risk of serious side effects, including implant site infection and rejection of the implanted device. The microdialysis technique can provide information that may someday allow doctors to spot infection earlier and prevent rejection from occurring.

Tiny Samples Provide New Understanding
A microdialysis probe (the size of a 0.5 mm pencil lead) is used to withdraw a tiny sample of extracellular fluid at the site where the implant and the body's tissues meet. Analysis of the sample can detect the presence and amount of a variety of chemical markers called cytokines that may indicate early signs of responses to an implant such as infection or rejection. "If you can understand the chemical communication that is going on at the implantation site, you can ultimately bioengineer the site to make it do what is appropriate for the device," says Stenken. "The tools to measure these chemical reactions are just starting to become available to us." Stenken is collaborating with Albany Medical Center co-investigators Daniel Loegering and Michelle Lennartz.

The NIBIB coordinates with the biomedical imaging and bioengineering programs of other agencies and the National Institutes of Health to support imaging and engineering research with potential medical applications.

Stenken's microdialysis project is part of Rensselaer's focal effort to advance biotechnology discoveries for the benefit
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Contact: Joely Johnson
johnsj2@rpi.edu
518-276-6098
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
24-Jul-2003


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