World Cancer Day: EIC innovators on the fight against cancer
Europe has nearly 4 million new cases of cancer registered every year. Many advances have being made to treat oncology successfully, but the fight is far from over: cancer remains the second leading cause of death globally. This World Cancer Day, on 4th February 2021, is celebrated with the theme “I am, and I will” - a reminder that everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden. With this motto in mind, we sat down with 3 innovators working on the fight against the disease to discover their achievements and new goals. From AI diagnosis and surgical solutions to new medical devices, new EIC-funded projects are getting closer to treat a disease which previously was called ‘untreatable’. Here are 3 examples of startups beating cancer.
AI hopes: MindPeak
Detecting cancer is still a meticulous and complicated process. Unfortunately, the number of experts can no longer meet the fast increasing demand and as a result, patients must wait longer than necessary for their diagnosis. To overcome this challenge, the German startup MindPeak developed solutions based on deep learning to support pathologists in their diagnosis. The company is using AI to help detect and classify cancer cells.
Felix Faber, CEO and Founder of MindPeak, noted:
“There is hope. This technology is helping to detect cancer a lot quicker and more accurately than what we have been doing until now. And it is also a cheaper method. AI can lower the costs on the cancer detection process, which means that more people will be able to have access to this diagnosis method”.
Lighting up the way: FluoGuide
80% of cancer patients need to undergo surgery. The procedures can be very invasive, and surgeons face multiple challenges to remove cancer precisely. The Danish company FluoGuide has developed a surgical visualisation solution that lights up malignant cells to help in their removal, while sparing the greatest amount of healthy tissue possible. The company started expanding this technology thanks to an EIC-funded project that was focused on brain cancer and is now aiming to further develop into other types of cancer in order to benefit more patients.
“Surgical intervention keeps developing in many medical fields. We think that, within oncology treatment, surgery will also be more dominant in the future and there are a lot of improvements to do in this scope. We would like to keep evolving to see the surgery treatment of cancer more prominently on the medical scene”, explained Morten Albrechtsen, CEO of FluoGuide.
Fashion textile and healthcare: NeoMedLight
Despite multiple technological advances in healthcare, the vast majority of cancers are still primarily treated with chemotherapy. However, different side effects are impacting patients’ quality of life, with mucositis and dermatitis among the most common and debilitating post-treatment inflammations. In the last decade, photobiomodulation with lasers has been used with some success to regenerate the cells, but the technology is usually expensive and complex, preventing its adoption in hospitals.
To address these difficulties, the French startup NeoMedLight developed a fabric using LED technology to generate the light, creating an innovation that can perform these treatments in a couple of minutes. The innovative light pads were inspired in a bride luminous textile dress created by Cedric Brochier, Director of Brochier Technologies. The pioneer and specialist in weaving optical fibers joined forces with the CEO of the start-up Pierre Saint-Girons to develop prototypes and put the same technology at the service of photobiomodulation. The solution has already been implemented in hospitals and has shown good results.
“Over the last years, lot of efforts went to immunotherapy, and other treatments that are fighting against the cancer, but they don’t focus on the well-being of the patient. In our case, we don’t treat the cancer. We treat the patients. I believe we need to give a better life to the patient, not only at the end of the treatment, but also during the treatment. That’s my mission for the time being”, explained Pierre Saint-Girons, CEO of NeoMedLight.