In the field of breast cancer, technology continues to support research. Students at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, in collaboration with the newly created company IcosaMed, have developed SmartBra, a bra for the early detection of breast cancer, to reduce the number of deaths of women who contract the disease.
“The aim of this smart fabric is to prevent and detect cancer in time through frequent, non-invasive and painless surveillance methods,” explains Hugo Villette, one of the students who helped create the bra.
The main purpose of this bra is to help women minimize the use of mammography/radiography, the only detection method available. The technology developed by IcosaMed uses ultrasound, similar to HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) and LIPU (Low Intensity Pulsed Ultrasound), to detect possible cancerous masses. Ultrasonic waves are generated by a sensor that uses piezoelectricity, a renewable energy that generates electricity when pressure is applied to a piezoelectric material.
“This solution allows us to reduce the size of the detection part of the SmartBra, ensuring maximum comfort and almost absolute discretion,” says Hugo Vuillet.
Thus, the system replaces the gel applied during ultrasound with a plastic interface containing an ultrasound emitter. If an abnormal mass is found, a visit to a specialist is recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
“In addition, we offer an alternative to conventional treatments. Current treatments are expensive, have many side effects and greatly compromise the quality of life of patients,” stresses Max Boissett, founder and CEO of the Neuchâtel-based start-up company.
“In addition to being a screening tool, the solution we propose aims to prevent the development of cancerous masses by the controlled application of low-dose ultrasound almost continuously to restore apoptosis (NDLR, a process that causes cells to destroy themselves in response to signals) in the long term”.
Commercialization is expected in 2021.
The launch of this smart bra is scheduled for 2021 and already promises to be a true revolution in breast cancer detection. Initially, the smart bra will target women who have already been diagnosed with cancer to ensure they can follow the progress of their disease on a daily basis. And in the second phase, women with a gene pool that is considered at risk will also be targeted. Ultimately, the goal is to provide it to all women.
“We are currently seeking funding,” she said. We need a total of $4 million, $1.5 million to complete the first functional prototype, which we are currently developing with our industry partner Turku Duotec, and $2.5 million to bring to market the first SmartBra, which is estimated to come to market in 2021,” Max Boissett said.
The students deserve our praise
The students, whose names we cannot forget Fatemeh Gadamier, Samet Hana, Jules Pochon and Hugo Viret, have succeeded in solving the problem of the role of impedance gels, thanks to their research.
“This collaboration shows that students can make a significant contribution, even on very specific issues,” adds Max Boissett.
“We look forward to working with them in the future. We are already in discussions with Turku Duotec to provide a working piezoelectric device. We are in contact with them to supply new piezoelectric elements, to develop the technical part of the piezoelectric transducer and for image processing,” Hugo Villette is pleased.
These smart bras should lead to other promising products in the coming years, such as shorts and suits for detecting and preventing different types of cancer.