Our research

The current procedure for detecting coronary artery disease is through an angiogram. While this can identify plaque build-up on artery walls, there has never been an effective way of measuring how stable the plaques are, or if they are at risk of rupturing, causing a heart attack.

Some plaques can harden and build up to the point where they narrow and eventually block the coronary arteries. Other plaques are soft, with just a thin ‘fibrous cap’. These are likely to rupture without warning, causing an instant blockage.

Until now, there has been no way to identify areas of unstable plaque in time to prevent a deadly rupture.

Professor Peter and his team at Baker Institute developed a speciality intracoronary device to detect which plaques are unstable during a coronary angiogram procedure. This breakthrough discovery has the potential to save millions of lives.

How the near infrared technology works

The near infrared (NIRAF) device is fed into the artery via guidewire during a coronary angiogram procedure. When the light is directed at coronary plaque, unstable areas will light up.

NIRAF device
A: Unstable plaque is detected using NIRAF device.
B: A stent is inserted to stabilise the plaque.

By identifying exactly which plaques are unstable, the cardiologist is able to treat high-risk lesions with a stent before they rupture and block the artery, preventing heart attacks and even death.

NIRTEK device

The NIRAF device is still at prototype stage. You can help progress it to clinical trials and make it available in hospitals not just in Australia, but right across the world.

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