Minnow Medical Aims to Commercialize Improved Device for Treating Peripheral Artery Disease

Xconomy San Diego — 

Tom Steinke says he founded San Diego’s Minnow Medical out of an abiding conviction of the limitations of the medical stent, a mesh tube inserted in arteries to help prop open clogged blood vessels.

Steinke came to this view after spending 20 years developing medical devices in the cardiovascular industry. His previous startup was San Diego-based Reva Medical, which he founded in 1998 around a novel slide-and-lock design for a metal stent that does not deform as it expands. Before that, he was a product group director for Medtronic, director of engineering for Sonotek, and a development engineer at Advanced Cardiovascular Systems, which became Guidant, the maker of heart pacemakers and defibrillators.

“I know the industry,” Steinke says. With a metal stent, he says, “you’re going to have an ongoing inflammation to a foreign body… Even a [stent with a] drug coating doesn’t last forever; eventually the coating dissolves.” As Denise has reported, drug-coated stents represented a major innovation for the industry, and one that caught Reva off-guard. As the industry shifted to drug-coated stents, Steinke helped Reva reinvent itself in 2003 by developing a bio-absorbable stent that fully dissolves over time.

By the end of 2003, though, Steinke had moved on.

Tom Steinke

Tom Steinke

He founded Minnow Medical that year, and tells me the company sprang from his “altruistic desire to improve health care for the masses.” Now, after six years of development, Steinke is working to commercialize the technology that sprang from his convictions.

Steinke tells me that during his first couple of years at Minnow, he searched for alternatives to vascular stents. The founder and CEO says he self-funded Minnow until he had identified a way to improve the medical device used in balloon angioplasty to treat arteries that have narrowed and hardened due to atherosclerotic disease, the build-up of waxy plaque along the inside walls of an artery. In the process, Steinke also focused on … Next Page »

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