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Plaqate: A Safer Coronary Atherectomy System

Team Members:
  • Caitlin Romanczyk
  • Clay Andrews
  • Josh Punnoose
  • Quinn Salditch
  • Scott Sterrett
  • Zack Buono
  • Paige Frank
  • Ananya Gupta
  • Peter V. Johnston, MD
  • Chao-Wei Hwang, MD


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and the most significant cost contributor to the health care system. The underlying cause of the vast majority of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease, which is the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that supply the heart. These occlusions obstruct blood flow, causing angina and often leading to heart attack. For cases in which there is minimalcalcification of coronary occlusions, balloon angioplasty and stent placement are effective in restoring blood flow. However, as coronary plaque calcifies over time, the vessels become too rigid to expand through these methods.

Currently, heavily calcified occlusions are treated with an aggressive intervention known as coronary atherectomy, which modifies the compliance of the plaque so that angioplasty can be successfully performed. The current standard of care for this procedure is Boston Scientific’s Rotablator, which is an abrasive burr that drives through calcified occlusions while rotating at 180,000 RPM. This procedure can be incredibly dangerous and is characterized by a 3 to 5% rate of vessel perforation and dissection, which occurs when the arterial wall is torn or punctured. These complications lead to heart attack and internal bleeding, frequently necessitating emergency cardiac surgery.

Plaqate is developing an atherectomy device to safely and effectively treat patients with advanced coronary artery disease. Our device operates on the principle of differential cutting, allowing the interventional cardiologist to preferentially ablate hard plaque while leaving the more pliant vessel wall intact. This will allow interventional cardiologists to effectively target calcified coronary occlusions with significantly reduced risk of downstream complications and major adverse cardiac events.

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