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Dr. Timur Sarac

Dr. Timur Sarac: Developing Bioabsorbable Stents for Soldiers

August 27, 2014

Timur P. Sarac, MD, has worked at the Cleveland Clinic for sixteen years. Most of his work focuses on complex surgery cases. He’s also the vice chairman and a professor at the Case Western University School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine in 1990. He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Rochester and his vascular surgery fellowship at the University of Florida. He has published over fifty articles and regularly speaks on advances in vascular surgery.

Why did you become a doctor?

My entire family is in medicine. I’m a fourth generation doctor, so we all grew up being part of the service. It’s a proudly noble profession and it’s something that we were introduced to very early on in our lives.

What made you interested in vascular surgery?

I did my general surgery training at an institute where vascular surgery was emphasized. There were several pioneers in vascular surgery who came from the University of Rochester—Charles Rob, James DeWeese, Ken Ouriel. These guys had such an impact on me in the way they conducted their practices. They were really phenomenal technicians and innovative people, and that’s what attracted me the most to it.

What are you presenting on at the VEITHsymposium?

I have three talks at this meeting. My first talk of the day was looking at the results of Cleveland Clinic treating patients who have significant difficulties from dissection, which is a tear of the artery. I looked at the results accumulated over time and we found that they’ve gotten better with more experience and better devices.  The second talk I gave is on a novel bioabsorbable stent that we’ve been developing for the United States military to treat military injuries. The third talk is on complex reconstruction of cancer that involves blood vessels.

What are the stents being developed?

There are two types of stents we’re working on.  One, which we’re developing with a startup company called Peritec Biosciences, is the first tissue-lined stent. It’s very similar to a heart valve, which can be made with pig or cow heart tissue or from a human donor. That technology’s being applied to stents. As a side arm of that, we’ve developed a bioabsorbable stent to treat military injuries. When you put a stent in a young soldier, they’re subjected to fatigue and durability issues over time. We’ve spent the last five years working on these and are excited about the progress we’ve made. They’re still in their infancy but work has really moved along at a pace that I’m very pleased with.

Have these been put to use yet or are they still being researched?

They’re still being researched and tested in clinical trials. Hopefully they’ll be approved in the next two years.  

Can you go into a little more detail about the bioabsorbable stent and how it works?

The bioabsorbable stents can be made of two types of components. One is a polymer and the other is a special metal. The polymers are very similar to absorbable sutures, or stitches, that dissolve over time. The same is true of the metals. There’s a certain metal, magnesium alloy, that can be absorbed. The difference between the polymer stents and the conventional nitinol stents is that they have very different mechanical properties. Whereas the properties of the nitinol stents cause them to have an outward force on them all the time, the bioabsorbable stents are constructed in a manner that tricks the outside force, to keep it open and stop it from collapsing.

How will this affect patients?

The tissue-lined stent offers patients a chance to have a better outcome and removes the need for a repeat procedure. We call it reintervention. The bioabsorbable stent for soldiers will decrease the risk of infection and save patients from further issues because the stent dissolves and goes away on its own.

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Last updated: 27-Aug-14

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