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Class Notes May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2

Entrepreneur's Corner: Minnow Medical
Tom Steinke, ’84


Like minnows swimming upstream, medical startups struggle for survival against heavy odds. Minnow Medical is tackling the difficult task of developing technology to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD). The disease, which is caused by plaque accumulated in arteries and reduces blood flow, can sometimes develop into critical limb Ischemia where the only current solution is amputation.

After years of working with stent technology at his other company REVA Medical, Minnow Medical President Tom Steinke, ’84, saw that existing cardiac devices only treat coronary arteries and not the periphery. But as the elderly population continues to grow, especially in San Diego, Steinke knew that more should be done to develop a device for PAD.

Steinke says that the market was “upside down” when the company first started in 2003—money was tight and start-ups had trouble with funding. But his experience in starting other companies allowed him to secure finances to get Minnow off the ground.

Steinke eventually put together a team of experts that came up with a new catheter technology to shrink plaque in arteries without damaging adjacent health tissues. The technology will ultimately help treat patients suffering from PAD.

These days, Minnow Medical continues to grow. It raised about $2 million privately and has about a dozen employees and contractors. The company plans to continue developing its new technology and will begin clinical studies in 2007.

— Marnette Federis, ’06, Raymond Hardie

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