NIRAMAI: A Revolutionary Breast Cancer Screening Solution Powered by AI

NIRAMAI Health Analytix is a health technology startup developing a novel solution to detect early-stage breast cancer in a completely privacy-aware manner.

The company’s offerings include a cancer diagnosis solution to Hospitals and Diagnostic centers, as well as a low-cost triaging solution to improve rural healthcare through Government and Non-Profit Organizations.

Niramai has developed a new technique called Thermalytix™, a novel computer-aided diagnosis solution to identify cancerous and pre-cancerous patients in an affordable, accessible and effective way. The solution is a non-contact, non-invasive, low-cost, and portable for detecting breast cancer for women of all ages. The tool does not require expert skills to operate the system and can enable large-scale rural screening. The core of Niramai software consists of novel computer algorithms based on artificial intelligence and machine learning over thermal images.

The key one-of-its-kind benefits of this solution are:

•  Unique screening experience: Niramai breast screening test that is radiation free, non-contact, painless and is completely privacy-aware. During the test, no one touches, compresses, or even sees the women being screened. This makes it easier for women to take a decision to undergo breast health screening regularly without worrying about socio-cultural issues.

•  Age-agnostic: Breast cancer incidences among young women are on a rise and traditional methods remain ill-suited for preventive screening for young women. Niramai test works on women of all age group, not just above 45 years of age. The lesser known fact is that breast cancer can also happen to men, and Niramai test is also suitable for screening men.

•  Safe: This test is completely safe, does not involve any radiation, and can be taken as often as needed without any side effects.

•  Affordable: This test used off-the-shelf thermal sensors. Since the capex for that equipment is less than one tenth of mammography, it makes the solution more affordable and accessible.

•  Accurate: Niramai test has shown good accuracy of detecting breast abnormality in women of all age groups. It works even in case of non-palpable lumps, making it possible to detect before a lump can be felt with hand examination.
The company was incorporated in 2016. Over the last two years, the team has focused on protecting IP, launching the product, establishing clinical validity and making solution commercially available across multiple states in India.


The Dynamic Leaders

Niramai was founded in July 2016 by two women Co-founders, Dr. Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur with diverse expertise. Geetha, who is the CEO and CTO of the company, holds a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and has led large teams to deliver innovative solutions in Hewlett Packard Labs and Xerox Research. She has over 25 years of research expertise in the IT industry and has several patents, publications, national and international recognitions to her credit. Nidhi holds an MBA from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) with specialization in marketing and strategy, and has expertise in commercializing new-to-the-world innovations. Nidhi plays the role of COO and CFO at Niramai.


An Innovative Approach to Detect Cancer

The core mathematics used by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms has now matured and the accuracy levels of automated decision-making have reached the threshold of acceptance, and in some cases even surpassed human decision-making. This has unleashed a new era of innovation creating a real-life impact. AI/Deep Learning Technologies are definitely useful in a country like India where there is a shortage of skilled medical professionals. Niramai makes cancer diagnosis objective, simpler and effective for Radiologists by helping them make more reliable clinical decisions with the help of technology.

Dr Sudhakar, Radiologist at HCG, Bangalore has tried Thermalytix and believes in the value it provides, “With Thermalytix bringing together the dual advantages of thermography and artificial intelligence, it’s possible to do away with errors of manual interpretation. It’s an effective way of detecting malignant tumours or lesions at an early stage, thereby preventing a majority of cancer deaths.” His viewpoint is shared by many Indian and US doctors who believe Niramai solution can overcome the limitations of existing solutions in an effective way.


Awards and Recognitions

Niramai is one of the only four Indian startups invited to participate in the Google Launchpad Global Accelerator program in 2018, one in four selected by Philips for their first edition of HealthWorks program in India, and winner of Amazon AI Award in Healthcare category. The company also won BNP Paribas award for Best Startup in Preventive Healthcare, and Best Startup in Indian Cancer Congress. Niramai also won the BIRAC WinEr 2018 as well as Aegis Graham Bell Award for Data Science category.


Business Challenges

The biggest challenge was to prove the clinical validity in an indisputable manner. The company has worked with major hospitals and key experts in the field to establish the efficacy of the solution.


The Road Ahead

Niramai has published multiple clinical trials in international forums and been able to showcase good results to drive clinical and regulatory acceptance. This solution is available in 14 centres across country. The test can now be availed by women in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Mysore, Hyderabad, Dehradun, Chennai and Delhi. We would conduct group screening programs in corporate and academic institutions to enable many women to avail the test at their workplace or at home, in addition to partnering with NGOs, cancer societies, and government bodies to conduct large scale camps in rural areas.

Niramai is working towards increasing the awareness about the solution among women population as well as practitioners. It is partnering with leading medical specialists to create additional proofs of the efficacy of the solution and establish the complete workflow to recommend how this solution can be an integral part of health services delivery. With efforts like that, the company will gradually move the solution towards being the standard modality accepted by a wider section of the medical community. In addition, Niramai is also looking at extending the application of the innovation to areas other than breast cancer.

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