Australian start-up medical device company Nirtek is one of seven companies awarded funding through the federal government's TTRA initiative.
The TTRA - Targeted Translation Research Accelerator - is delivered by MTPConnect. It supports new research approaches to improve the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and their related complications.
Nirtek’s NIRAF guidewire project was awarded $750,000 through the TTRA.
The device treats unstable plaques in the coronary arteries. Rupture of such plaques is the major cause of heart attacks and the number one cause of death globally.
Nirtek’s device is a guidewire inserted into the coronary arteries during an angiography procedure. By examining plaques with laser light, the device detects autofluorescence signals from plaques that contain intraplaque haemorrhage and are vulnerable to rupture.
"By detecting these plaques before they break open and cause an occlusion of the artery (a heart attack), the NIRAF Guidewire device will allow cardiologists to treat the plaque before the heart attack occurs, a step that Nirtek believes will save many lives," said the company in a statement.
Nirtek said the TTRA funding will support the next phase of product development, in partnership with Planet Innovation, a local company with extensive experience in the development and commercialisation of medical devices.
Nirtek managing director and CEO Matthew Hoskin said, “We’re developing a clinically impactful product and we’ve received so much support from our local Melbourne ecosystem, as well as from cardiologists who are keen to see this product come to fruition.
"It’s extremely motivating and pleasing for the team to be involved in such a collaborative project. Engaging with Planet Innovation for the next phase of development means the injection of enormous knowledge and capability into our project.
"We’re talking about high tech laser and optics systems on a micro scale, being inserted into coronary arteries to detect the cause of heart attacks before they happen. It really is exciting to be working on this innovation.”
Mr Hoskin continued; “We still require additional funding so capital raising through investment remains an important activity for Nirtek, however the funding and support from MTPConnect’s TTRA program will help us make significant progress in our product development journey towards a medical device available for clinical use.”
Sam Lanyon, co-CEO of Planet Innovation, added, “We look for partners where the leadership has experience at commercialising technology and where the solution is being driven by market insight. We are excited by the Nirtek team and how they have approached the problem of detecting vulnerable plaques in the coronary arteries. We look forward to being part of the team.”