Unitus Seed Fund’s StartupHealth investment program offers grants and investments to very early-stage startups that enhance access to affordable technology-driven healthcare products and services for the low-income masses in India. Under this program, Unitus Seed Fund has selected UE LifeSciences for investment. UE LifeSciences has invented a low-cost, portable breast screening device which has potential to save many lives of women in India through early-stage detection of breast cancer.
UE LifeSciences will receive initial funding of INR 50 lakhs ($80,000), go-to-market support from StartHealth partners Unitus, PATH, Manipal Hospitals, Narayana Health, & Pfizer, and potential follow-on investment of at least INR 1 crore ($160,000).
Not being able to detect and cure breast cancer is a huge problem in India. In 2012, 145,000 new cases and 70,000 deaths were reported due to breast cancer in India. The survival rate is poor (40-60%) because more than 60-70% of the cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage (Stage IIb or later) significantly due to the lack of screening programs. With limited radiology manpower and competing healthcare priorities, may healthcare procedures are unavailable in India.
iBE: an ultra-portable, low-cost wireless breast scanning device
UE LifeScience’s iBE (intelligent Breast Examination) is a low-cost, portable, patent-pending and FDA approved (Breast Lesion Documentation System) medical device that can be operated by a health worker in a health clinic, a temporary health camp, or at a home. The device is a handheld scanner, is non-invasive, is radiation-free and is easy to learn to operate. iBE pairs with a smartphone app (via bluetooth) and as the scanning is conducted, scanning results appear on the phone’s screen. The app alerts the health worker if any abnormalities are detected so that she can refer the patient for further evaluation. A screening is expected to be priced as low as INR 100 (~$1.50) making it affordable to most Indian women.
UE Lifesciences has been founded by Mihir Shah and Professor Matthew Campisi. Mihir has significant experience in developing and commercializing medical devices including NoTouch BreastScan™, InfraScan™, IQ™ and Zoe™. He co-founded UE LifeSciences in 2009 to develop innovative and yet cost & clinically-effective tools to battle the burden of breast cancer. Alongside, Professor Matthew leads product research and development including electronics design, software, analytics & signal processing aspects. In the past, he has led the product development efforts for various medical devices such as NoTouch BreastScan and Sentinel BreastScan. The two of them a very experiences team with them to tackle the problem.
“We have developed a product that is absolutely suitable for the Indian market; It is non-invasive, painless, accurate and provides results in less than five minutes at the point-of-care. We believe it is the answer for breast cancer early detection for women in India,” said Mihir. Talking of the results, he adds, “We are very pleased with the results from the initial trials we’ve conducted in the USA and India, and will be using the new funding to expand our trials and implement our go-to-market investments in India.”
Website: UE Lifesciences