Preciva Revolutionizes Cervical Cancer Screening
Impact Entrepreneurs: How would you describe Preciva in a single tweet?
Anaïs and Craig, Preciva co-founders: Seriously, one tweet?
Preciva is an impact-driven startup developing a field robust, accurate, electronic cervical cancer screening test that can be delivered anywhere for less than $2 per test.
What is the social problem you’re trying to address?
Cervical cancer usually develops slowly and is easy to treat; women who regularly screen, even with imperfect tests, are likely to be treated and survive. The problem is that in many parts of the world, affordable tests aren’t available, health workers with enough training aren’t available to deliver or interpret existing tests, or women live too far from clinics to make repeat visits. This results in over 270,000 deaths every year, over 80% of them in low-income countries. Even in the United States, low-income women face barriers to screening. To address these problems, we’ve designed our test to be field portable, easy to use, highly affordable, and independent of the lab infrastructure needed for current tests.
How does your product work?
It generates a detailed visual map of the cervix by measuring tissue response to electrical stimulation. This map will show the probability of tissue being abnormal or cancerous with much greater detail than is currently available with cervical screening tests.
All of the basic science developing the method has already been done by academic researchers over the last 20 years. Craig (our founder) had worked in the field previously, designing cervical cancer screening technology, and he drew on his experience to develop an innovative design that overcomes the technical limitations of other people’s earlier attempts. That’s where we are now. The next step is to conduct clinical testing at multiple sites (we have several research partners lined up), and ultimately submit our clinical data for FDA approval. You don’t need FDA approval to sell in our initial market, which will be India, but because we believe the advantages of our test will make it attractive in the US market as well, we will seek FDA approval.
We’re motivated by two powerful ideas. One is that our technology really does hold promise to bring greater equity to a particular area of women’s health — if you can make a product that is more affordable and delivers better results, why shouldn’t it become the standard of care for all women? And there is no justification for the fact that cervical cancer deaths are so heavily concentrated among poorer women.
The second thing that excites us and keeps us going is the opportunity to innovate as a social business, and contribute to defining what that term means. Few medical innovations are developed this way — out of a small, for-profit but socially driven company — and we’d like to show it can be done.
You’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign through StartSomeGood. What are your targets, and how will the money be spent?
Our tipping point — our minimum goal — is $10,400, which is what we need to put all the pieces of our prototype together in a working model we can take to clinics and show investors. Ideally, we want to raise $20,600, which will pay for some necessary legal, accounting and other work that we need to do to prepare for raising a more significant amount of funding.
What can our readers do to support Preciva?
Contribute to the campaign. We have a lot of clinical partners and potential investors very interested to hold a working prototype in their hands. Once we have that, a lot will start to happen very fast. With many people giving a little bit of support to the campaign, we can get there and take off.