This article was originally published in Start Up
Every week just under 19,000 breast biopsies are performed in the US to find only 2,800 cancers. While tissue biopsies will always be necessary to determine the degree, invasiveness and stage of masses that are cancerous, the founder of BioLuminate thought there ought to be a less invasive way to initially rule out cancer to prevent large numbers of biopsies on benign tissue. He believes he's found it in smart probe technology licensed from NASA.
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This year, more than 192,000 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer, according to "US Markets for Breast Cancer Detection and Diagnostic Technologies," a report recently issued by Medtech Insight. Breast cancer represents a medical market growing through demographics, but also driven by advances in technology. The US market for breast cancer screening and diagnosis, which totaled more than $2.1 billion in 2008, is expected to grow at a healthy annual clip of 5.4% to more than $2.8 billion in 2013, despite the present economic uncertainty, including impending health care reform and cost/reimbursement issues.
In breast cancer, the need for less invasive alternatives to surgery is gaping, particularly on the diagnostic side. Following routine screening mammography, 1.4 million women in the US each year have breast biopsies once a radiologist identifies a suspicious lesion. However, only 20% of women undergoing biopsies will be found to have cancer and not just abnormal, but benign growths. Several new companies have gone to the drawing board to remedy the shortcomings of biopsy devices.
Good news in the biopharma industry and the US economy gave public drug developers the boost they needed to raise cash, including Karuna’s $750m offering. Private company financings slowed during the second week of August, but Prellis and Vector BioPharma raised venture capital.