Start-up launches new laser tech to prevent heart attacks

A Baker Institute spin-off company, NIRTEK, has been established to develop and commercialise innovative technology that uses lasers to detect unstable coronary plaques, the leading cause of deadly heart attacks.

New spin-off company to prevent heart attacks

A new Australian company called Nirtek is working to develop and commercialise innovative technology that uses lasers to detect unstable coronary plaques, the leading cause of deadly heart attacks.

Fatty deposits known as atherosclerotic plaques can build up over time in the walls of the arteries, leading to coronary artery disease — the world’s biggest killer. If these plaques rupture, they can cause blood clots that block blood flow to the heart.

Pioneering technology shines a light on high-risk plaque

Nirtek’s new technology uses near infrared laser light to identify these dangerous, rupture-prone plaques, so doctors can treat them before they lead to heart attacks.

The device is based on the pioneering research of Professor Karlheinz Peter and his colleagues at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, with patents already granted in both the USA and Japan.

Images, left to right: Image of system (controller unit + guidewire); Close up guidewire tip showing laser; Guide in artery investigating a plaque

Australian research and ingenuity is driving this project

Nirtek combines this research and clinical expertise with the ingenuity of Swinburne University optical physicists for prototype design, and the specialised skills of RMIT nano researchers to develop the strategy for large-scale manufacturing of a key optical component of the product.

Too many people are suffering from heart attacks even after undergoing an angiogram which is the gold-standard detection measure for plaque build-up, highlighting the need for a better solution.

Nirtek CEO Matthew Hoskin says the technology is a terrific example of medical research providing the solution to a clearly defined clinical problem, in this case helping to prevent Australia’s biggest killer.

Capital raising is underway to translate this into the clinic and save lives

The company recently received a $750,000 Targeted Translation Research Accelerator grant through the Medical Research Future Fund which was a great boost, and is seeking additional funding to advance this life-saving technology to prevent heart attacks and save lives.