According to the World Health Organization, more than one million women worldwide are living with cervical cancer, and many of them have no access to health services.
While cervical cancer rates are lower in developed nations over the past 30 years due to screening and treatment programs, rates in developing countries haven’t reduced, and in fact, may have risen. More than 86 percent of deaths from cervical cancer happen in the developing world.
Rural and poorer women are at an increased risk of invasive cervical cancer, because they often do not have access to crucial prevention, screening and treatment services.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and deadliest disease among women worldwide. Tremendous sums of money are spent on treating the disease when it’s too late. Even if women do have access to screening, the outdated testing procedure, which was invented in 1940, is invasive and uncomfortable, it’s highly operator dependent, causes to many unnecessary biopsies, risk of infection. The results are not immediate and diagnoses are not always accurate.
Every year, 200,000 women are misdiagnosed for cervical cancer and pre-cancer only in the US.
That is where Biop Medical comes in.
New technology for early detection
Biop Medical has developed new technology: a probe that uses high-resolution optical and imaging techniques to identify cancerous and pre-cancerous cells in epithelial tissue.
Testing is faster, more comfortable and highly accurate. Patients receive a near-certain diagnosis right away, which eliminates waiting and anxiety.
Biop’s unique opto-mechanical device uses advanced algorithms to analyze several optical phenomena and indicate the exact location of abnormal areas.
Built on IBM Bluemix
The first-of-a-kind solution not only generates an enormous amount of data, but also acquires data on an ongoing basis, so Biop Medical’s board, led by Chairman Sid Braginsky, former CEO of Olympus USA, was looking for a big, data-based solution to support its data storage, retrieval and analysis needs.
Biop took part in the IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator Program, a 20-week professional program for developing solutions for the enterprise market. Held at the IBM Israel offices, the program focuses on post seed- and round A-funded companies with the aim to create long term technology and business partnership with IBM worldwide.
Biop developed its solution on the scalable IBM Bluemix platform, using a simple drag-and-drop process to add services as needed. The GUI interface that medical professionals use to access and analyze data is hosted on Bluemix virtual servers in the IBM Cloud. Biop’s point of care solution composed of: database, storage, machine learning algorithm and user interface web application. For that, infrastructure tools such as virtual server, file storage and services such as IBM DB2 on cloud and object storage are being used. In addition, Biop application is using cloud foundry apps such as IBM’s SDK for Node.JS and Python.
The solution includes patients’ medical histories combined with data from geographic and risk factors that are analyzed to make appropriate recommendations.
These new data sets can be used to improve the accuracy of Biop’s diagnostic and create predictive data, which will determine which cells are likely to convert to cancer and which will regress to healthy cells. The data can also be used by researchers and insurance carriers to improve their business.
Biop Medical intends to interface with Watson soon for image and test analysis.
Hope for the future
Particularly important in developing countries is the fact that medical professionals can take the Biop solution to the patient’s location for screening.
For example, in India, where more than 25 percent of incidences of cervical cancer are diagnosed, many families live in small villages far from medical care. By the time a woman goes to a physician because of discomfort, the cancer is already invasive and too late to cure.
With Biop, every woman can be screened in just three minutes. Women with advanced pre-cancer can be sent to immediate treatment, effectively saving many lives with early detection.
Further, Biop’s probe allows minimally trained medical professionals and para-professionals to get more accurate results than the best physicians today.
The bottom line is that this is about people; saving the lives of mothers and daughters and sisters. It’s about preventing the family and community suffering that ensues when a mother leaves her family behind.
“Research shows that to do the job of a mother, it takes seven people,” says Dr. Liat Gindes from the Biop Medical advisory board.
If the cancer can be diagnosed in time, a life can be saved, with no expensive medications or treatments that people cannot afford. It’s a simple test with a smarter prediction.
For now, the biotechnology is focused on cervical cancer, but it can be applied to other kinds of common cancers as well.
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