Teenage inventors show off prototype for cancer-detecting bra

By Heather Mack

Higia Technologies, a Mexican biosensors company headed by 18-year-old Julian Rios Cantu, has unveiled a prototype version of a bra called Eva, which founders say can detect breast cancer. Eva, a thick-strapped item that looks like a sports bra, is equipped with sensors to map the surface of the breast and surrounding areas along with texture, color and temperature.

Since cancerous tumors bring increased blood flow to the skin that can change the temperatures, Eva was designed to be worn an hour to 90 minutes per week to track any changes over time. Through regular tracking and logging in an app, Eva could be used to alert the wearer of any changes and prompt them to visit their doctor.

Eva still hasn’t been tested, but the idea is promising enough that Higia Technologies have attracted funding, winning the top prize of $20,000 at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition develop the idea.

"We know that tumors often have an abnormal system of blood vessels, but we also know that increased blood flow isn't necessarily a reliable marker of cancer,” Cancer Research UK’s Anna Perman told BBC News. "At present, there is no evidence to show whether this bra is a reliable way to detect tumours, and it's certainly not a good idea for women to use technology that hasn't been tested in good-quality scientific trials.

Another company has been working on a similar breast cancer diagnosic wearable is Cyrcadia Health, a Reno, Nevada-based organization formerly known as First Warnings Systems which made some headlines back in 2012. Cyrcadia has quite a head start on Higia -- its product, the iTBra, has already secured FDA 510(k) Class II approval and completed some US clinical trials. The company announced last month that it would launch its product in Asia.

"One of our objectives has been to launch Cyrcadia's early breast cancer monitoring technology in Asia, where breast cancer is accelerating at twice the pace of the rest of the world," CEO Rob Royea explained in a statement. "With a much higher breast density population, virtually no nationalized screening initiatives, and the average age for breast cancer incident rate being approximately 20 years earlier than for those women in Europe and the U.S., a wearable technology such as Cyrcadia's is addressing a clear and urgent need in Asia. There is great interest by several global insurance providers to partner with Cyrcadia Health in delivering our wearable monitoring to Asia expected by late 2017."