Physicians could soon have a new, noninvasive and radiation-free option when it comes to performing regular breast exams. A hand-held device, using technology developed at Drexel University, that can detect cancer by sensing the elasticity of breast tissue is moving into the final stages of testing and development with help from a Pennsylvania Department of Health grant.
“Intelligent Breast Exam” (iBE™) is a device developed by researchers in Drexel University’s College of Medicine and School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems that uses piezoelectric finger technology to glean more accurate information from routine breast examinations. After a series of clinical tests it could become a valuable tool for physicians in the early detection of breast cancer.
UE LifeSciences Inc., a Philadelphia-based startup that licensed the technology in 2010, will use the $878,422 grant from the Pennsylvania DOH’s Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program to further commercialize and clinically validate the sensor technology.
In a pilot clinical study conducted at Drexel’s College of Medicine, iBE™ detected nine out of 11 clinician non-palpable breast tumors and identified one invasive breast cancer that was missed on the mammogram.
“The Intelligent Breast Exam can differentiate between the stiffness of normal breast tissue versus that of a tumor,” Dr. Ari Brooks, chief of surgical oncology at the College of Medicine, said. “Within our clinical trials, iBE was even more effective at finding tumors in women under 40.”
The technology originated at Drexel’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, under the research of Dr. Wan Shih. Shih, inspired in her work after battling breast cancer herself, developed the first versions of the device.
“I am thrilled to see this technology move a few steps closer to being available in the clinic,” Shih said. “It will benefit millions of women for whom mammography is not effective.”
Funding from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the University City Science Center’s QED proof-of-concept program helped to push the research forward to the point when it was licensed by UELS in November of 2010.
“We are proud not only as entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, engineers and doctors but also as Pennsylvania residents” Founder and CEO of UE LifeSciences Inc. Mihir Shah, said.
UE LifeSciences will collaborate with various Pennsylvania-based organizations including Drexel University, M Squared Electronics and NextFab Studio as it develops an energy efficient, smaller footprint beta sensor integrated with smartphone platform for further clinical evaluation.
“UE LifeSciences success is a testament to the continuum of support that is available to innovative startups in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Stephen S. Tang, president and CEO of the University City Science Center said. “QED provided early funding that helped Dr. Shih bridge the funding gap. It’s great to see the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pick up the baton and support the next leg of the iBE’s race to commercialization.”
About UE LifeSciences Inc.
UE LifeSciences Inc. (UELS) is a Philadelphia, PA based corporation with a mission to design, develop and commercialize globally adoptable and clinically effective non-invasive breast cancer detection solutions for women of all ages and demographics. UELS creates automated technologies that do not require highly skilled medical practitioners for accurate test administration and data analysis.
About the Science Center
The University City Science Center accelerates technology commercialization, regional economic development, and the market availability of life-enhancing scientific breakthroughs by bringing together innovations, scientists, entrepreneurs, funding, laboratory facilities, and business services. Established in 1963 and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. UCSC launched the QED program in 2009, which is the nation’s first multi-institutional proof of concept program for the life sciences. Graduate organizations and current residents of the University City Science Center’s Port business incubators have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to www.sciencecenter.org.