A young teen from Mexico has a vision to save women across the world from breast cancer. He has developed a high-tech bra that could aid in the early detection of the illness.
Julian Rios Cantu, a nineteen-year-old boy from Mexico, has invented a bra that is predicted to act as an early warning system for breast cancer symptoms. The young man was inspired by the unfortunate experiences his own mother had to go through as a breast cancer survivor. She was originally diagnosed when he was thirteen years old. However, her symptoms were not detected early enough. Though a doctor had found lumps in her breasts, he claimed they were malignant, though they were, in actuality, not. A second examination revealed they were indeed cancerous. Therefore, she lost both her breasts to cancer through a traumatic series of events that has left her emotionally, mentally, and physically scarred. Now, Cantu is out to ensure other women don't have to go through the same pain.
He said, "My mom could have had a better outcome if she had been diagnosed earlier, but because of the high density of her breasts, the X-ray missed the tumors. At that moment I realized that if that was the case for a woman with private insurance and a prevention mindset, then for most women in developing countries, like Mexico where we’re from, the outcome could’ve not been a mastectomy but death." In countries with limited access to medical professionals, this could become very dangerous.
At first, he spent a few months researching the illness to the best of his abilities, making sure he was up to date on all the current diagnostic practices. Thereafter, he invented the idea of a bra that would be able to detect signs of breast cancer early on. The next few steps were much easier — he simply filed a patent, got a few friends together in order to help him run the business, and finally set out to develop his final product. The bra is expected to go on sale at any time now, but pre-orders have already begun on their official website.
The company Cantu and his three friends established is known as Higia Technologies. The high-tech bra has been named EVA, and is described as "the first intelligent, portable, and non-invasive wearable designed to detect abnormalities in the thermal patterns of the breast, an indicator for the possible presence of breast cancer." The EVA bra is equipped with sensors used to collect thermal data from the surface of the breasts. The data is then utilized to map the thermal patterns of a patient's breasts.
These thermal patterns can indicate whether a tumor is present or not as tumors emit a greater heat than "normal" because they have an elevated rate of cellular reproduction. Higia explains, "This causes a hot zone around the tumor that EVA analyzes to generate a risk evaluation through Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Our Artificial Intelligence algorithms, then, generate a risk evaluation in a matter of minutes." Not only is this easier than making a visit to the doctor, but it is also more reliable.
The reason why the bra is so effective is that it makes the self-examination just that much more standardized. As their official website describes it, "This allows a professionalization of the auto-examination, complementing the conventional methods of diagnosis and screening." While many women may already know how to complete a breast examination themselves, they may not be doing so correctly. The EVA bra erases any chance of human and/or layman error through the power of technology.
The bra has already undergone stringent testing in order to understand how well the wearable tech works. As of now, Higia Technologies reports that the sensibility of the EVA bra stands at 87.9% while its specificity is at 81.7%. The study included data collected from 153 women with 33 of them having breast cancer confirmed through a mammogram or biopsy. The process used to conduct the study was a cross-validation system. In the near future, Higia hopes to continue conducting clinical trials in Mexico and abroad in collaboration with allies Stanford Medicine, the Mexican Institute for Social Security, and AXA Insurances.
Higia Technologies has also received funding from many avenues. Most notably, the company was recognized by Y Combinator, an American seed accelerator that has contributed towards the establishment of highly successful companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit. In the summer of 2017, it was reported that Higia received a $120,000 investment from Y Combinator. Additionally, Cantu was awarded Mexico’s Presidential Medal for Science and Technology and Higia Technologies won first place in the SXSW’s International Pitch Competition. The company was even named one of "30 Most Promising Businesses of 2018" by Forbes Magazine Mexico.