For decades, mammograms, or x-rays of the breast, have been the best bet for screening for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease.
While there are no studies out there on how many women find the procedure painful, if the number of forums and discussion groups online are enough to go by, mammograms are ranked as one of the most uncomfortable and painful female health-related experience.
In a mammogram, a breast is compressed and flattened to prevent motion blurring when taking x-rays. The current procedure exerts a lot of pressure on breasts, and without a system that can accurately measure pain, it has been near impossible to make regular breast screening painless and comfortable. There is a high chance that the pain and anxiety associated with the procedure may discourage women over 40 from going for regular check-ups.
Micrima, a Bristol-based breast imaging company, developed a new painless way to screen for breast cancer. This CE Mark approved radiowave breast imaging system has successfully closed on a new financing round of £2.6 million today, to accelerate R&D of Micrima’s patented MARIA technology.
According to the company, soon breast screening will be safer, more comfortable and more accessible to more women all over the world, as Micrima aims to start commercialisation towards the end of this year.
“Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 55 in Europe and the leading cause of death for women in many countries.
The problem is that many tumours are not discovered early enough, largely due to the difficulty in discriminating between cancers and dense tissue using current imaging technology,” said Roy Johnson, Micrima’s executive chair.
“Using harmless radiowaves, the MARIA imaging system is capable of detecting tumours in dense tissue and allows routine and repeated scanning without any of the safety or comfort concerns associated with x-ray mammography. The process takes less than five minutes and avoids painful breast compression.”
The MARIA radiowave breast imaging technology was initially pioneered at the University of Bristol in the UK. It received European regulatory approval in 2015 and is currently deployed in clinical trials based at several breast cancer imaging centres throughout the UK.
Peer-to-peer lender Venture Founders put up 50 per cent of the new funds, while the other half was funded by pre-existing institutional and individual investors.
Re-investing shareholders include Technology Venture Partners LLP, based at the Innovation Centre at Bristol & Bath Science Park, Swarraton Partners, a UK venture capital firm investing in European early stage technology companies and the British Business Bank-supported Angel CoFund. University of Bristol Enterprise Fund is its newest investor.