• Australian Startup Nirtek is developing innovative technology that uses lasers to detect unstable coronary plaques that usually cause deadly heart attacks.
  • Soon to be commercialized, the new technology uses near infrared laser light.

A new Australian company called Nirtek is working to develop and commercialize innovative technology that can detect unstable coronary plaques using lasers. Coronary plaques are the leading cause of deadly heart attacks.

Atherosclerotic plaques are fatty deposits that build up over time in the walls of the arteries, leading to coronary artery disease. This disease causes maximum heart attacks and maximum deaths all over the world every year. Ruptured plaques can cause blood clots. These clots can block arteries and thus, reduce or stop blood flow to the heart. The new technology of Nirtek uses infrared laser light to identify these dangerous, rupture-prone plaques. Once the plaques are identified, doctors can treat them before they cause heart attacks to the patient.

Professor Karlheinz Peter and his colleagues at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute conducted research and developed the device. In USA and Japan, the patent has been granted to this device. Combining this research and clinical expertise with the ingenuity of Swinburne University optical physicists for prototype design, along with the specialized skills of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) nano researchers Nirtek developed the strategy for large-scale manufacturing of this device.

Professor Peter said that many people were suffering from heart attacks even after undergoing an angiogram which according to doctors, was considered to be the gold-standard detection measure for plaque build-up. Hence, there was a need for a better solution.