Inspired by his family's experiences with breast cancer, Mihir Shah is bringing life–saving technology to women around the globe who have little or no access to early breast cancer detection. Along the way, he's leveraging the Science Center's tech commercialization programs.
Shah's company, UE LifeSciences, produces a hand–held device that can be used by community health providers to detect stiffer than normal breast tissue that may be cancerous. The cost per scan? As little as $1!
iBreastExam is sold in India, Southeast Asia and Africa, where the need is great — the survival rate for breast cancer in these regions is only about 50% due to late detection of the disease. With well-established global partners, Shah plans to market the device in over 30 developing countries in 2017.
The sensor was developed by two Drexel engineering professors, Drs. Wan and Wei Shih, who received one of three inaugural QED grants from the Science Center. Shah, a Drexel alum, licensed the technology in 2010.
"QED is a great framework to create proof of concept, providing a critical bridge between the academic community and an entrepreneur," Shah says. "We could see that the sensor had the potential to save lives."
UE LifeSciences took what was a great university invention and turned it into a commercial–grade medical device. The Science Center's Digital Health Accelerator helped put the device on the road to reality.
The DHA helped the company craft its go–to–market strategy, including fundraising, market traction, and of course regulatory requirements.
"The DHA really helped us to prepare for, and ultimately obtain, the FDA clearance that we needed for market entry," he says. "That's a direct result of working in an environment where leaders are always willing to listen and help to find a solution."
Before the end of 2017, over 500,000 women will receive the benefit of an early detection breast exam for the first time in their lives. UE LifeSciences now employs 50 people across five offices in the U.S., India and Malaysia. Altogether, the company has raised $4.2 million in VC funding and $1.3 million in grant awards. All this is just the beginning.
"The Science Center has been the genesis of many good things for us," Shah says. "In our next phase, we look to develop a host of health care solutions that address large unmet needs in developing markets, and the Science Center is a great partner for that."