PlaqueTec Liquid Biopsies Give Alternative Data To Systemic Biomarkers Interview with:
PlaqueTec liquid biopsiesDr. Nick West, MD
PlaqueTec Chief Medical Officer and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist
Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust What is the background for this study?

Response: Recent data have identified residual inflammatory risk as a potential therapeutic target to modulate future risk of coronary and vascular events independent of cholesterol lowering1. This approach has now been validated by the CANTOS study, showing reduction of peripheral blood levels of high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) and consequent reduction of the occurrence of major cardiac events in patients who had sustained a myocardial infarction2,3. Although controversy continues to rage regarding the relevance of ‘vulnerable plaque’ versus ‘vulnerable patient’ in the causation of acute coronary events, evolving data suggest a complex interplay between a proinflammatory milieu and ‘vulnerable’ plaque phenotypes 4,5 .

We used a novel dedicated intracoronary sampling catheter, the PlaqueTec Liquid Biopsy SystemTM (LBS), and sought to correlate systemic inflammatory indices with degree of local coronary inflammatory activity. The LBS has previously been validated to safely delineate the presence of gradients of inflammatory biomolecules in human coronary artery disease6. We measured blood levels of a large panel of inflammatory biomolecules using multiplexed assays in peripheral blood and in coronary-derived blood samples after balloon dilatation of coronary stenoses during coronary angioplasty, and assessed systemic levels of hsCRP by ELISA. What are the main findings? 

Response: Statistical analysis using K-means indicated our patient population (n=23), predominantly patients with stable angina, segregated into 2 discrete clusters of high and low overall coronary inflammatory states. However, when compared with peripheral (systemic) levels of the same inflammatory biomolecules in each cluster, there was no meaningful relationship. Additionally, there was no difference between median hsCRP measurements between the 2 clusters. Taken together, these data suggest that simply measuring peripheral markers of inflammation may not be able to determine local inflammatory activity within the coronary artery itself. What should readers take away from your report?
What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: These data provide interesting and hypothesis-generating data that explore the mechanisms of benefit in vascular risk by reducing systemic inflammation; rather than hsCRP acting as a simple ‘barometer’ for likelihood of events, it appears that presence of coronary inflammation may be an independent entity. Further studies are needed to address the complex relationship between systemic and coronary inflammation, and their respective interaction with ‘vulnerable’ plaque phenotypes in modulating patient events.

Disclosures: Dr West acts as a consultant to, and holds equity in, PlaqueTec Ltd.


  1. Ridker PM. Residual inflammatory risk: addressing the obverse side of the atherosclerosis prevention coin. Eur Heart J 2016; 37: 1720-22.
  2. Ridker PM, Everett BM, Thuren T et al. Antiinflammatory therapy with canakinumab for atherosclerotic disease. N Engl J Med 2017; 377: 1119-31.
  3. Ridker PM, MacFadyen JG, Everett BM et al. Relationship of C-reactive protein reduction to cardiovascular event reduction following treatment with canakinumab: a secondary analysis from the CANTOS randomissed controlled trial. Lancet 2018; 391: 319-28.
  4. Libby P, Pasterkamp G. Requiem for the vulnerable plaque. Eur Heart J 2015; 36: 2984-7.
  5. Hansson GK, Libby P, Tabas I. Inflammation and plaque vulnerability. J Intern Med 2015; 278: 483-93.
  6. West NEJ, Corrigan JP, Owen RHG et al. Percutaneous sampling of local biomolecule gradients across coronary artery atherosclerotic plaques. J Am Coll Cardiol Basic Trans Science 2017; 2: 646-54.


PlaqueTec Data Presented at EAS Show Lack of Correlation 
between Localised Coronary Artery Inflammatory Biomarker Expression and Systemic Elevation of Biomarkers including hsCRP

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Last Updated on May 30, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD