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.
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.