UE LifeSciences, a mobile health technology developer of iBreastExam, has raised follow-on strategic investment of $1.2 million (approximately Rs 8 crore) led by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon. Its existing investor Unitus Seed Fund also participated in the round.
The funding will be utilised to scale the company’s commercial operations in India and expand the innovation pipeline in the mobile health devices segment. UE LifeSciences has successfully established its facility in Mumbai under the Make in India campaign to manufacture devices for the Indian market. According to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw:
"Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and early detection is critical. In India, one in two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer succumb to it; a staggering statistic that can be dramatically improved with early intervention. UE LifeSciences’ affordable, high-tech iBreastExam device is uniquely positioned to address this challenge effectively in both urban and rural India."
Founded in 2009 based on technology developed at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, iBreastExam is UE LifeSciences’ flagship product. iBreastExam is a portable and radiation-free device and is usable in virtually any setting. It performs bilateral breast examinations and produces results within five minutes while detecting lesions with sensitivity higher than 85 percent. It has a low false-alarm rate of six percent and does not cause any pain or discomfort.
A clinical study, published in the Indian Journal of Gynecologic Oncology (IJGO) in April 2016, demonstrated an increase of 19 percent in detection as opposed to the physician administered clinical breast exam. According to Dr SP Somashekhar, HOD oncology Manipal Hospital:
"We evaluated iBreastExam under an IRB approved clinical study of approximately 1,000 women at Manipal Hospital. The device performed with significantly higher sensitivity than clinical breast exam. It is a promising tool to provide clinically effective and standardised breast examinations to detect breast lesions at early stages".
“It has been an incredible honor to have Dr Shaw as a long-standing advisor and now an investor. She is a business leader par excellence with a deep commitment to philanthropy and impact. She is a force to reckon with and we are really excited to have her by our side,” said Mihir Shah, Founder and CEO of UE LifeSciences.
The device is currently available in select cities (Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai) through SRL Diagnostics, Medall, Metropolis labs, and Portea Home Healthcare. With recent approval from the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC) of India, iBreastExam will accelerate into mainstream healthcare.
The health tech startup is also working with non-profits to enable early detection tests for India’s underserved population. The device has been successfully piloted in Rajasthan, Delhi and Maharashtra state governments. Over 20,000 women have received the iBreastExam test in India. According to Dave Richards, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Unitus Seed Fund:
“The incidence of breast cancer has doubled in the last two decades. Yet, 90 percent of the developing world doesn’t have access to any means of early detection. iBreastExam is a first-of-its-kind innovative technology that will bring high quality, radiation free and painless breast health examination to millions of women in India.”
UE LifeSciences earlier raised $3 million in Series A funding in October 2015, led by Aarin Capital and Unitus Seed Fund. The company also received a Rs 50 lakh grant as part of Unitus Seed Fund’s StartHealth programme – an initiative that selects India’s best early-stage health-tech startups innovating for the masses.