The only screening method for cervical cancer currently in use dates back to 1930, a screening considered cumbersome and invasive.
The Mexican research laboratory Timser proposes a new technology that seeks timely detection of cancer with a less aggressive method.
25 out of every 100,000 women suffer from this disease, being the fourth leading cause of death among Mexican women.
The Mexican research laboratory Timser developed a new technology for early detection of cervical cancer, using a minimally invasive method. This tool works as a complement to the pap smear, currently the only method to identify this disease.
In Mexico, 25 out of every 100,000 women suffer from cervical cancer. This condition comprises the fourth cause of death among women in the country, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
A less invasive method to detect cervical cancer
The investigation of the device, called Preventix, took more than a decade, said Teresa Gutiérrez Smith, director of Strategy and Communication at Timser. Its goal is to save women’s lives by encouraging them to be screened periodically with a less invasive method than the Pap smear.
Preventix detects biomarkers in the blood that appear when there is inflammation or lesions in the cervix. With a 53-element blood chemistry test, this element can be added and detect whether inflammation is present or not.
“You can have an effectiveness greater than 85%, we can tell you if you have an inflammatory process or not. In addition to what type of cancer it is and the inflammatory status,” he said. This is higher than the 60% effectiveness of the Pap test, according to the executive.
However, Gutiérrez Smith clarifies that the device does not replace a complete pap smear examination, should a positive result of inflammation occur.
What are biomarkers?
Biomarkers is a trending technology that allows the identification of genes, proteins or substances that provide information about a cancer.
Each person has a unique set of biomarkers, which can help to have a personalized treatment. So far the company has 20 biomarkers to detect cervical inflammation.
Globally, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer killer of women, a disease that could be eradicated, says Gutiérrez Smith.
The best chance for life is early detection; however, due to the Pap smear screening method -considered by many to be uncomfortable and invasive- a large number of women do not have it done.
Women do not go for pap smears due to embarrassment and discomfort.
Several studies mention that the main factors for not having a medical checkup is the embarrassment and discomfort they feel about the pap smear. “There are women who can go up to 10 years without getting a scan,” says Gutiérrez Smith.
She assures that only 30% of women have their annual check-up, a figure that explains why cervical cancer is still present. One of the causes of this discomfort, Smith attributes to the speculum or duck, as it is commonly known, another technology that dates back 177 years.
“It’s an invasive, annoying, uncomfortable and anachronistic method, this is tremendous gender violence. The cancer screening (detection) system, because you are a healthy woman, is that they stick a metal device in you that is quite invasive,” she said.
Science made by women for women
Teresa assured that science for women, many times, is done from a man’s perspective, so she also proposes to promote science thought with a gender perspective.
“We set ourselves the task of creating an even floor to really empower women and have health in our hands. This is a much more assertive and safe generalized screening, where women do not have to suffer such a violent intrusion without having an injury,” she said.
Timser’s management team is entirely composed of women and the team of scientists is made up of six people led by Dr. Angel Velazquez; “good science is done in Mexico,” she added.
In addition to cervical cancer detection with Preventix, the laboratory is working on an antiviral gel for lesions caused by cancer. With it, the burn treatment that is currently performed can be avoided.
“For the treatment of HPV lesions, they mutilate or burn you, the treatments are aggressive that have consequences forever,” he commented.
Preventix will be on the market this month.
The executive expects the device to come out this month and the gel by the end of 2022. The patent won in 2021 the award for the best innovation by the Mexican Institute of Intellectual Property (IMPI) and also has patents in 153 countries around the world.
The laboratory also has the support of the IMSS, the UNAM and the Salvador Zubirán National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition.
“We have something really revolutionary, it is cutting-edge technology, it is Mexican and it is to change women’s lives,” she concluded.