The world of science is ever evolving. And, in these times of change, the question still remains whether science is a blessing or a curse. The world currently stands in a position where breast cancer is a rising issue amongst women. In India alone, approx. 75000 women die every year of breast cancer. Early detection and regular screening for high-risk patients is very critical in saving lives and reducing treatment costs. Lack of awareness, affordability and accessibility remain as the key challenges in women hindering their preventive health check-ups. Preventive healthcare has been around for quite some time now; and people are still slowly adopting it as a practice.
Though women are at the focal point of many families, their health has been ignored for centuries in India. Unfortunately, the most common way of detecting cancer in current Indian practice is hand examination, and in most cases it is already very late, before a woman is diagnosed accidentally through a screening camp. Also, more than 60% of the lumps are harmless – so hand examination creates unnecessary anxiety and misleads diagnosis.
To overcome such a terrible problem, a team at NIRAMAI Health Analytix has developed new cancer screening software that uses machine intelligence over thermal images to enable a low-cost, easy-to-use, portable solution that requires minimal human supervision and ensure much greater precision.
“Sarve Santu Niramaiah” (May everyone be healthy) from Vedas describes what NIRAMAI is trying to achieve. NIRAMAI has screened over 3000 women and most of them are from underprivileged background. Their portable, low-cost, privacy-aware solution is a great way to take breast cancer screening facilities to under-served areas.
Efficacious and Humble leader of NIRAMAI
NIRAMAI was instituted by Dr. Geetha Manjunath; she is currently serving as the CEO and CTO of the company. She has over 25 years of experience in IT research and has led many innovative projects in healthcare and transportation, especially catering to the emerging markets. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Science and a Management degree from the prestigious Kellogg’s School of Management Chicago. This exceptional education and valued experience of working with various firms allows Dr. Geetha to provide NIRAMAI with a very proficient guidance.
She was recently awarded BIRAC WinER Award 2018 for her Entrepreneurial Research in Biotechnology and has also won the 2010 MIT Tech Review Grand Challenges for Technologists in Healthcare category.
Inimitable features of NIRAMAI
NIRAMAI Health Analytix is a health technology startup developing a novel solution to detect early stage breast cancer in a completely privacy aware manner. NIRAMAI’s offerings include a cancer diagnosis solution for Hospitals and Diagnostic centers, as well as a low cost cancer screening solution to ensure availability of high quality healthcare solutions in rural areas through Government and Non- Profit Organizations.
The traditional diagnosis is carried out by Mammography machines that are only available in cities and accessible to only a fraction of the population. The process is also very expensive, which limits women from undergoing regular preventive screening for breast cancer. Such test also renders the patient more susceptible to the disease, due to the radiation effects of X-Ray.
The core team at NIRAMAI believed in the vision of solving this important problem in women’s health. It provides the most privacy aware way of screening for breast cancer.
The key features of NIRAMAI solutions are:
- Can detect cancer long before a lump is felt.
- No radiation, non-contact, non-invasive, privacy aware technique.
- Works for women of all ages, and works for men too.
- Affordable, portable, light, small screening device enables large scale rural screening.
NIRAMAI has successfully filed ten US patents, out of which five are already granted. It has now successfully completed two retrospective clinical trials and has made the solution commercially available in India. DCGI has also released an official clearance for NIRAMAI breast screening and diagnostics solution. This makes it an approved solution for breast screening in India.
Distinct Services provided by NIRAMAI
NIRAMAI has developed a new technique called ThermalytixTM, a novel computer-aided diagnosis solution to identify cancer and tumors in pre-cancerous patients in an affordable, accessible and effective way. The core of NIRAMAI software consists of novel computer algorithms, based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning over thermal images.
The process of screening using ThermalytixTM is very simple. The patient walks into a private booth, then sits in a cool room (of about 21-23° C) for about 10-15 minutes, as a preconditioning. After the cooling procedure, the heat distribution on her chest is measured using a thermal sensor. She is instructed to slowly rotate on a stool in front of a remote thermal sensor to enable five thermal images to be taken. Then the computer aided diagnostics software analyses these thermal images to generate a report with quantified interpretation and identification of potential malignancies. The interesting part is that this thermal imaging is done in a privacy sensitive manner.
Promising Future of NIRAMAI and the Healthcare Startup Industry
Healthcare startup industry is drawing a lot of attention. From entrepreneurs, investors to customers alike, due to the huge market potential and ability to make a social impact. However, it is a very competitive industry for seeking investments with limited funding; but growing array of startups providing diverse solutions, addressing problems with different grades of technical and clinical risks associated with the technology.
NIRAMAI is a technology-led company that believes in winning in this rapidly growing industry by expanding its IP and innovation portfolio, forging mutually beneficial industry partnerships and working closely together with domain experts and customers to provide an industry leading solution. The novel features of NIRAMAI solution make it a unique product for both end users and healthcare providers.