top of page
  • Writer's pictureJyoti Pande

BreezeScan: Innobreeze Technologies develops non-invasive device to detect cancer

27 Jul, 2014, 1415 hrs IST

By Jyoti Pande Lavakare

In the past month, 10 people in my immediate circle of friends and family have found themselves grappling with cancer in some way, either newly diagnosed or recurrent. It is not pretty. It is common knowledge that the earlier this disease is diagnosed and arrested, the more effective its treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, despite India's progress in healthcare innovation, the country isn't exactly known for excellent preventive care -- cancer pre-screening is still a nascent subset of medical care here. The Indian demographic is especially vulnerable to cancer of the oral cavity. "This is due to the high consumption of smokeless tobacco in this part of the world," says Dr Nandita Murkutla, India country director, World Lung Foundation. According to the World Health Organization, "tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption have been estimated to account for about 90% of cancers in the oral cavity; the oral cancer risk increases when tobacco is used in combination with alcohol or areca nut". Early Diagnosis In such a scenario, an innovation that combines the indigenous expertise of photonics, electronics, software and mechanical engineering that could help in instantaneously detecting oral (and even cervical, another high-prevalence) cancer is BreezeScan, a non-invasive, portable screening device developed by Dr KR Suresh Nair's Innobreeze Technologies. The device uses light rays of different wavelengths passing through human tissue via an optical fibre probe to help locate pre-cancerous and cancerous cells non-invasively. When cancer cells get formed, there are biochemical, morphological and vascular changes in tissues and the fibre-optic light reflected carries that information. "It is like a torch -- the optical fibre tip of the probe glows and the received light that has passed through the tissue contains all the information needed to detect carcinoma," Nair says, speaking from Kochi, where he is based. Thus, without the need for a biopsy (which requires cutting a piece of tissue and testing it), doctors can detect cancer and the stage it is at, information that can be used for both screening as well as surgical purposes. BreezeScan has just won the DST-Lockheed India Innov a t i o n Growth Program award and the Innobreeze team will go toSilicon Valley to learn how to take the product to the market and grow the company. As part of the innovation growth programme, the winning teams were taken to Goa and taught by Stanford professors for a week on how to market their innovations and attract funding. "We have begun clinical trials and in 43 patients that we've screened, only one result wasn't completely accurate," Nair says. The fully functional prototype will screen 400 patients and correlate results before going to the market. His team is working with the Government Medical College, Ernakulam, the Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, among others. By making screening and detection non-invasive, faster and simpler, many more patients will come under the doctor's radar, literally, leading to earlier detection, more compliance and better recovery. Cutting Down on Operations Currently, even for experienced clinicians, it is often difficult to locate the most malignant site in a lesion for biopsy, and this often leads to multiple biopsies causing unnecessary pain and discomfort to patients, not to mention risks of infection during healing. But with BreezeScan, as the received light is first detected and analysed using a developed model and algorithm on a real-time basis, the chances of error are minimal. Additionally, it is based on a userfriendly Android platform with a touch-screen and icons that don't require any specialized training, laser or chemical markers. The time taken to conduct the entire screening? Two minutes. And the device stores all data with patient details, its Bluetooth interface facilitating transfer of data for further analysis. BreezeScan can detect and discriminate all types of tissues of the oral cavity, including the tongue and lip and diagnose and grade normal, dysplasia (abnormal) and hyperplasia (pre-cancer) tissues. The potential of such a nimble device is big, especially if you take into account export possibilities, which is probably what motivated the government's technopreneur promotion programme under the department of scientific and industrial research to finance this product in its initial stages. Now, Nair is ready to take it forward. He plans to set up a manufacturing facility at Kochi's KINFRA park, a Kerala state infrastructure incubation centre where his company will make the core engine for the device. However, he will outsource the mechanical and electrical parts and integrate them into the final product, which will sell for Rs 3.5 lakh. In the first year, he plans 200 scanners, for which he needs an investment of Rs 4 crore. He is still looking for capital to kick-start the project. Nair says Innobreeze has obtained all ethical clearances and is in the process of finalizing agreements with CMC Vellore and the Tatas and is preparing to apply for certification. His go-to market strategy is to reach the government's primary health centres, sell through medical device companies, tie up with dentists and work throughinsurance companies to bring down medical premiums. "Since no special training is required, Asha [community health] workers can easily use this device," he says. (The writer is an independent columnist and writer)

18 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page