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Harbingers of A Robust Future

BIZ July 2018 Startup

Harbingers of A Robust Future

Bengaluru-based healthcare startup NIRAMAI Health Analytix has come up with a solution for one of the biggest threats to women’s health—breast cancer.

By Lidiya Prasad
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There is confidence in Nidhi Mathur’seyes as she speaks about her startup, NIRAMAI Health Analytix, a novel breast cancer screening solution. Over a year ago, when she began her journey with Dr. Geetha Manjunath (CEO), little did the two realize that their unique venture was paddling towards global limelight. NIRAMAI roughly translates to ‘being without diseases,’ and expands into ‘Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine Intelligence.’ Founded in 2016, the startup’s solution helps in the early detection of breast cancer, one of the most pressing epidemics facing the women in our society today.

“Breast cancer is one of the few cancers that can be completely cured if detected early. We are creating the opportunity to save thousands of women in India who are dying due to delayed detection,” says Dr. Manjunath, when asked about what motivated the duo to foray into unknown, uncharted territory. Despite traditional screenings and several preventive methods in place to keep breast cancer at bay, one out of every two Indian women is still being diagnosed with breast cancer. “Both of us have personally experienced the effects of cancer in a family, and we believe our solution will not only save lives but also spare families from the psychological and financial strain that ensues from late detection,” she adds.

NIRAMAI is an age-agnostic non-contact, non-invasive tool, used for the screening of breast abnormalities, that makes use of thermography. So far, it is the only automated solution used in the early detection of breast cancer that promises to guard one’s privacy during the process, removing all possible hindrances that usually hold women back from walking in for a screening. The startup’s hardware-software technology solution, called Thrmalytix, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze heat patterns of the chest in order to detect abnormal patterns. The thermal device is placed almost three feet in front of the patient and captures fie thermal images of the region. The tool then automatically analyses these images and sends the analysis report that is certified by a senior radiologist.

Unlike the traditional mammogram, this method of screening involves no radiation and people can undergo one every six months. NIRAMAI has successfully started clinical trials at the HCG Cancer Hospital and the Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre and is in talks to spread the word to more hospitals.

“A MAMMOGRAPHY IS LESS EFFECTIVE IN YOUNGER WOMEN DUE TO DENSE BREAST TISSUES. THERE IS ALSO THE ADDED CONCERN ABOUT SAFETY WHEN USING RADIATION-BASED METHODS FOR CANCER SCREENING.”

Dr Geetha Manjunath,
CEO, NIRAMAI Health Analytix

The NIRAMAI test can be carried out along with existing modalities to fill the apparent vacuum that exists today inaccurate screening. “Our test, when carried out with sono-mammography, can be an effective preventive screening test, particularly for younger women. Mammography is less effective in younger women due to dense breast tissues. There is also the added concern about safety when using radiation-based methods for cancer screening. And this is where we raise the curtains to our test, which involves no pain or radiation. These factors lead to significant improvements in screening experience, encouraging women to undergo screening regularly as a part of their routine health checkups rather than considering it only when a noticeable lump is developed,” Dr. Manjunath says.

Dr. Manjunath, who has a Ph.D. in data analytics and over 25 valuable years of work in research and innovation labs, has a nonpareil wealth of scientific and technological knowledge, while Mathur, a serial entrepreneur, is the brain behind the commercialisation of the innovation. Together, the enterprising duo has made their journey interesting and one full of hopes for women all over the world.

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NIRAMAI has earned praise from stalwarts in the industry for its revolutionary innovation, including the iconic Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Managing Director of Biocon. In April 2016, NIRAMAI raised an undisclosed sum in seed funding from Pi Ventures, an early-stage investor. The startup’s disruptive innovation has also seen contributions from impact VC Firm Ankur Capital, Axilor Ventures, 500 startups, and the co-founder of Flipkart, Binny Bansal. The health tech startup has received several recognitions from industry leaders as well as domain experts like Philips and BNP Paribas. NIRAMAI was one of India’s top four startups that were invited to participate in the Google Launchpad Accelerator program in San Francisco and was also the winner of the Amazon AI Award in the healthcare category.

“We are really excited about the results we are getting with NIRAMAI technology,” a young and vivacious Nidhi says. “We look forward to partnering with leading technology companies as well as medical practitioners to solve the challenge of early and reliable detection of breast cancer.” The duo is not done here. Their eyes are set on achieving more, creating stepping stones for women everywhere, on the road to a full and healthy future.

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