Bengaluru: UE LifeSciences Inc, a USA-India based med-tech startup, announced a distribution partnership with GE Healthcare to commercialize its iBreastExam (iBE) in countries across South Asia and Africa.
The partnership brings together UE LifeSciences’ skills to design and develop mobile health innovations, and GE Healthcare’s sales, marketing and distribution expertise in these markets to enable early detection of breast cancer in the developing world, the company officials said.
Over 75,000 women have been screened in the country with the help of iBreastExam and 100-plus breast cancer cases identified in partnership with 40-plus private healthcare, government institutions, non-profit and CSR initiatives, he said.
UE LifeSciences said iBreastExam is an innovative, validated mobile breast health solution designed for use by primary health workers, obstetricians and gynaecologists to identify breast abnormalities in healthy, asymptomatic women during a routine health checkup.
Being a radiation-free and painless test further makes iBE suitable to women at primary care locations such as a doctor’s clinic, community health centers, health camps or a hospital’s out-patient department, he said.
The partnership provides a significant opportunity to commercially scale-up iBE across India, South Asia, Africa and South-East Asia and improves breast cancer-related outcomes in these regions, GE Healthcare SustainableHealthcare Solutions President and CEO Terri Bresenham said.
“With the wealth of engineering talent that we have in this country, with the gap in healthcare system being out of reach, particularly for the rural population, we need to play a different role,” she said.
“So our goal is to help bring startup companies like UE LifeSciences together with what we can provide – scaled distribution, service and support model across vast regions of the world,” she added.
iBE is a “Made in India” device developed by ateam of 20-plus scientists, engineers and clinicians with USD1.3 millionin grant funding from Pennsylvania Department of Health (CURE Grant), University City Science Center (QED & DHA), Drexel University (Coulter Programme) and Unitus Seed Fund(StartHealth grant).
It is currently commercially available in India, Myanmar, and Botswana.
The project has been mentored and invested by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon, Dr. Ranjan Pai of Manipal Education and Medical Group and Unitus Seed Fund, a social impact investor in affordable healthcare innovations.
Stressing on the need to “downstage” cancer, Mazumdar-Shaw said it is a difficult task as most people only go for diagnosis when it is too late.
Stating that innovations like iBreastExam should be made a standard of care, she said “The moment you downstage cancer and you detect it early it converts from cancer care to cancer cure. I think governments also need to adopt this because when we look into diagnosis and diagnostics that is about preventive healthcare.”
Pointing out that today more lives were being lost to breast cancer in India than any other country in the world, Shah said it is not only the most commonly occurring cancer in India, it occurs in one in 28 women over their life time, and of that half the cases were in women under 50 years of age.
He said survival rate was about 52 percent that means India is losing one out of two women to breast cancer, which is in contrast to the US where nine in ten survive.
Three published clinical validation studies showed 83-86 percent sensitivity and 88-94 percent specificity for iBE to detect clinically relevant breast abnormalities, company officials claimed.