The access and cost associated with breast cancer screening has always posed a major challenge for healthcare practitioners and patients alike. Niramai, a Bangalore-based startup is striving to address this challenge by combining, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud-based screening. Previous week, the startup announced a seed funding round led by Pi Ventures. The round additionally witnessed participation from Axilor Ventures, 500 Startups, Ankur Capital, and Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal.
The startup has also recently featured in a list of 20 startups in the summer batch of Axilor. The startup is addressing challenges in a very niche arena. There is a dearth of facilities and radiographers in the country, which is coupled with the cost of regular screening. Most people in India find it unaffordable to access such healthcare services. Statistics suggest that breast cancer has surpassed cervical cancer as the leading cause of death from cancer, among women in India.
This is not all, facts suggest that in India, one out of two women diagnosed with breast cancer dies within five years. According to WHO, the fatality is less than one out of five for US; and one out of four for China. Developed countries have witnessed a fall in mortality rates, which can be mostly attributed to early detection.
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The startup uses its name Niramai as an acronym for Non-Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine-learning and Artificial Intelligence. Essentially, it utilizes a low-cost device to take high-resolution thermal images, without using any radiation. AI-based techniques are applied to the images on the cloud for detecting breast cancer.
Traditional mammography requires expensive equipment and experienced radiographers. Niramai’s technique provides an efficient alternative. Furthermore, the startup claims that its patented Thermalytix technology uses thermography to detect tumors five years earlier than mammography or clinical exams. In other words, Niramai’s thermal imagery and cloud-based analytics have the potential to extend the scope of AI-based breast cancer screening beyond the country.