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This “Smart Bra” is Better than a Mammogram at Detecting Breast Cancer

16 | By Michael A. Robinson

You need to hear Nedra Lindsay’s story.

It’s the tale of how a chance event saved her life… and signaled the start of an exciting “biodata” investment story that may finally come to fruition sometime in 2013.

It started back in 1993, when Lindsay was just 24 years old, a nurse at a hospital in Ohio. She came across a flier about an experimental study of a new breast-cancer screening system. She nearly threw the paper away, because she didn’t think the study applied to her. After all, she was a good 15 years younger than the age at which most U.S. women begin getting mammograms (special chest X-rays designed to spot cancer in its early stages). So she really had no reason to worry about breast cancer.

In the study, Lindsay tested an interesting wearable device – think of it as the type of sports bra a female runner might wear – that gives vital health data. It works by using thousands of embedded sensors to check the heat of breast tissue and compare that with data about the correct temperature for healthy cells.

These thermal “fingerprints” are designed to detect cancer years before it would be large enough for a mammogram or self-exam to spot it.

Lindsay wore the bra for 24 hours, during which time it gathered data and sent it to her doctor.

The results were alarming. There was indeed abnormal tissue in her breasts. Three more costly tests confirmed it: She had a very aggressive form of cancer. The early detection helped her get early treatment. But had she thrown that piece of paper away, Lindsay would most likely have been a cancer victim instead of a cancer survivor.

That’s why today, at 45 years old, Lindsay is helping to spread the word about the small startup firm whose sensor-laden “smart bra” saved her life.

For the past 20 years, Lifeline Biotechnologies Inc. (OTC:LLBO) has been developing and testing a “smart bra” that can screen for very early signs of cancer. Early detection of breast cancer gives the patient more treatment options, better quality of life, and a much-increased chance of survival.

Lindsay was one of their first test subjects.

Now First Warning System Inc.’s product is almost ready to go to market. Parent company Lifeline is the principal shareholder in the firm, which was founded in 2008 and headquartered in Reno. First Warning is planning a final, limited clinical trial of its “smart bra,” as well as a premarket device classification with the FDA. It is also preparing to apply for approval to go out in the UK, EU, and Russian markets. According to ABC News, the bra will go on sale in Europe sometime in 2013 and cost about $200.

This product could improve the lives of hundreds of millions of women around the world.

It’s miles ahead of what we have now. It even qualifies as “disruptive tech,” in that it could replace mammograms altogether.

You see, the mammogram remains the chief way doctors screen women for breast cancer, and it does save countless lives. But it is hardly foolproof. The process is only accurate at finding cancer 70% of the time. Not only that, but about 750,000 biopsies called for by mammograms reveal no sign of cancer whatever. These “false positives” alone cost the U.S. $1 billion for tests that weren’t needed after all (not to mention the stress and fear these women must endure).

What’s more, mammograms don’t work well for women under 40. And yet breast cancer claims the lives of 6% of women under the age of 44.

That’s where the First Warning System comes in. In three recent studies that looked at 650 women, the bra was much better than mammograms at spotting signs of possible cancer. It was right 90% of the time, the firm says.

Recently Lindsay taped a video for First Warning Systems to celebrate 19 years of life she might never have had without them, and it is getting buzz both in the media and on the Web.

The tech really hits home for me, and I suspect it will for many of you, too. See, my wife’s mom is a breast-cancer survivor. So we pay a lot of attention to this field. My wife would like to make use of a screening process that is much less invasive than mammograms. And if it’s cheaper and more accurate, so much the better. Also, I have two teenage daughters, and I would feel a lot better if they could use a device like this starting in their early 20s.

Now here’s why it’s so exciting for investors like us…

First Warning fits into two big cutting-edge trends at once – wearable electronics and a field known as bioinformatics. Today’s sensors are so cheap and flexible, we can wear them in our clothes. More to the point, the software that crunches all this data relies on a steady stream of advances in artificial intelligence.

Add it all up, and we are on the verge of seeing billions of patients around the world take more control of their health. In the case of the First Warning bra, women can work directly with their doctors rather than go to special clinics for screening. So, make no mistake – this could be huge in terms of both sales and lives saved. Not to mention the chance to score stock gains in the very near future.

It all breaks down like this. Each year in the U.S. alone, women receive 48 million mammograms. The market for breast screening in the U.S. and Europe totals about $2 billion annually. The technology hasn’t really changed in decades. It’s uncomfortable, costly, and wildly inaccurate.

As soon as a cheaper, better, more accurate, and less-invasive technology comes along, the market will snap it up.

It sure doesn’t hurt that First Warning really is “disruptive” tech. By that I mean, its unique blend of sensors and software can turn the whole market for mammograms upside down.

For high-tech investors like us, it will be a triple win.

By backing this type of tech, we could save several hundred thousand lives. We also can help reduce health-care costs in the U.S., which we no doubt need to do. And we have the chance to score stock gains. No, First Warning is not yet publicly traded. But it has received more than $13 million in venture funding, meaning that it is on the track to at least consider going public in the next few years.

Let’s suppose this company never does have an IPO. I’m not worried because some other opportunity will come along. I predict the market for biodata devices will explode in the next few years and will give us plenty of stocks to choose from.

I’ll let you know.

Michael

P.S. If you missed my piece on vanishing spy cameras and other types of “transient electronics” that ran in Money Morning, you can read it here.

16 Responses to This “Smart Bra” is Better than a Mammogram at Detecting Breast Cancer

  1. Lawrence Ziegler says:

    I think it’s a grand IDEA..!! As you know cancer is a profitable busines and the American Cancer Society will cry for the money they will lose. Cancer is a money machine for the medical industry.. . I say HaRay for this new approach..

  2. Tucsonbill says:

    I am not surprised that such a new piece of technology has been discovered. I am more interested in verifying its viability. The only way to begin such a study is to begin! I look forward to more information.

    • Mahar says:

      5b5There is a lot of information that the media (and prbaobly male doctors) are leaving out.First, mammography is radiation. In small doses, radiation doesn’t necessarily cause harm. But repeated exposure can potentially CAUSE cancer.Second, breast cancer in young women is usually extremely aggressive and grows very quickly too quickly to be caught in routine annual monitoring.Case in point myself. I started having annual mammograms in my late 20s because my mother was diagnosed in her 30s. In March 2006, at age 33, I had a routine annual screening mammogram. All was well.7 months later, I found a tumor in my right breast that was nearly 5cm. A premenopausal breast tumor grows too fast to be caught in an annual mammogram.Now, of course, the footnote that the media never picks up on is had I KNOWN I had a brca1 mutation, I prbaobly wouldn’t have been satisfied with a clean mammogram. However, I didn’t find out about the brca1 mutation until mid-way through chemotherapy, and it did me little good at that point.So I think that the condescending tone about anxiety over false-positives is troubling, but the powers that be aren’t being completely honest about the mortality rates and the very scary truth about breast cancer in young women. (I’m fine now).Sarah Deer

  3. Beryl says:

    If It really does the job just sounds FANTASTIKC. Would it wortk on something lIke THYROID CANCER, TOO?

    Best resutss,

    A good friend

  4. Rairoux says:

    this sounds great. Let us know how to profit from these good news. Are those bras on the market yet? CAn I buy one and where? What about investing in the parent company? Lifeline? Is it possible? Will you answer my questions? Thanks and kind regards
    Agnes

  5. Edmund Klebe says:

    This would be a great candidate for a “rental” item from the doctor’s office, after all if one could wear this for 24 hours, it would not be required to wear this every day. The other question: is this washable?

  6. Patricia Moore says:

    There is already a safe alternative to mammography. It is called Thermography and it uses heat sensitivity to detect breast abnormalities. Of course the medical industry does not want this publicized because there is too much money already invested in machinery for mammography and there is too much money being made treating cancer!
    Any woman can get thermography which is far safer than mammography as you pointed out the dangers of the latter. Sadly insurance will not pay for it! What is wrong with the insurance companies and Medicare? We women should have a choice. Thermography could be cheaper to provide yet we must pay for it ourselves. I say it is worth the expense rather than having our breasts subjected to the horrors of mammography!
    I am so surprised that you have not heard of Thermography. Apparaently this company has and is using this technology in a bra. Frankly I would prefer to go get Thermography to wearing this bra for days.

  7. ed the grocer says:

    The real system is called thermography. It is already in widespread use. You can scan part or all of your body, save the data, and easily see any problems or changes long before X-rays ( mamography ). It is perfectly safe, non invasive and cheap. The only problem is that it is perfectly safe, non invasive, and cheap. Oh, it also works far better than X-rays. I wouldn’t want to be too critical of the bastards that want you to put an X-ray machine flat against some of the most vulnerable tissue in your body, but I am.

  8. Darlene Pirrello says:

    Read the article folks….Michael tells you both the name of the company AND it’s parent company, and ALSO says that they are NOT YET publicly traded! I too think it is a WONDERFUL idea and is probably just the tip of the iceberg for innovative medical discovery items yet to come.

  9. PMA1225 says:

    I find it bizarre that it has taken this long for an experimental study which took place almost 20 years ago for a new breast-cancer screening system to possibly now be ready for public use. I say shame on the medical industry, our government, and anyone else who has been stuffing their pockets, for not giving this type of study priority. We have lost too many people – world wide – for this type of technology to finally come to fruition. Why has it taken this long since the first studies started? Why are we as citizens not demanding more? Is it greed, do we not have enough facilities for this type of research, no scientist, not enough money, WHAT? I for one am sick of the medical industry, pharmaceutical industry and our government thinking that we are a bunch of idiots. The sad thing is that “we the people” are lied to so much we don’t know who to believe and what can be done about it.

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