Chennai– llumina 360, a robot-assisted breast cancer early warning system developed by a city-based medical technology firm, can help in early detection of tumours through thermal imaging and be a boon in tackling the disease that is fast spreading in India, an official said.

Cura Healthcare developed the innovation with funding assistance from the central government-run Bio-technology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under the Department of Bio-Technology.

Cura Healthcare has got a US patent on hand for its Illumina 360 and is looking at healthcare providers for the machine.

According to M. Balasubramaniam, chief executive officer Cura, the system is the first of its kind in the world in breast cancer detection.

With incidence of breast cancer seen in younger women, Illumina 360 can detect presence of variance in the breasts of women irrespective of their age and without any pain, Balasubramaniam said.

According to him, the existing screening systems have negative factors like pain when the breasts get pressed by the machine, women feel shy to be exposed during the screening process, age (only women over 45 can be subject to mammography) and non-ionizing radiation.

However, Illumina 360 eliminates all these handicaps.

“All that a woman has to do is to lie down on a table just unbuckling her tops and without exposing her breasts. An advanced robot in the scanning chamber will take a 360 degree view of the breast and acquire thermal signature – an early warning signal for breast cancer,” Balasubramaniam said.

“On seeing an abnormality in the thermal image, the person may be advised some lifestyle changes. After some period similar scan could be taken to check on the status,” Sandeep Jaipurkar, Consultant Radiologist, Image Art, Vijaya Health Centre said.

According to Balasubramaniam, with Illumina 360 mass breast screening from early age can be a reality in India.

Balasubramaniam said the equipment will be priced similar to the analog mammography whereas the digital mammography costs around Rs 1 crore.

Renu Swaroop, Managing Director, Bio-technology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Bio-Technology, Government of India, in a statement said: “We at BIRAC are here to stimulate, foster and enhance bio-tech innovation that can bridge existing healthcare gaps and improve lives of 1.3 billion Indians. This is a critical mandate of Government of India.

“We are pleased to announce the birth of one such innovation -CURA’s Illumina 360 degree, to bridge one of the biggest gaps in the country – addressing the biggest killer disease of the country – Breast Cancer. We are proud to have been part of innovating this disruptive innovation.”

Balasubramaniam said India today is staring at a breast cancer epidemic and breast screening is non-existent in India.

One in 28 women get breast cancer and one in two die due to late detection, making survival one of the lowest in the world.

According to Balasubramaniam, the Rs 175 crore turnover Cura Healthcare is targeting a revenue of around Rs 200 crore this year.

“We will be targeting hospitals, diagnostics labs and primary health centres for Illumina 360,” he added. (IANS)