How 4 Johns Hopkins students are cutting breast cancer biopsy costs

A group of undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have developed a low-cost reusable needle technology that aims to improve access to pricey breast cancer biopsies in developing countries, TechCrunch reports.

Laura Hinson, Madeline Lee, Sophia Triantis and Valerie Zawicki's core-needled biopsy combines low-cost disposable components with a hygienic reusable device. "The disposable portion has an ability to trap contaminants that would come back through the needle into the device," Ms. Triantis told TechCrunch. "What we've created is a way to trap that and have that full portion be disposable, and making the device as easy to clean as possible … with a bleach wipe."

The group formed a startup called Ithemba to commercialize the device. They were awarded $10,000 as winners of the annual Lemelson-MIT Student Prize earlier this year, and have also received $60,000 in non-dilutive grant funding.

Ithemba hopes to finalize the device's design and complete benchtop testing by summer 2020, when they plan to start clinical trials. Though it could be several years before the device is cleared for marketing, Ithemba already has its first customers lined up: a clinic in South Africa and a hospital in Peru.

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