Start-up corner: Detecting cancer with a mobile phone

When Apple founder Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone’s mobile app store, he probably wasn't thinking about screening for cervical cancer.

July 6, 2014 19:34
1 minute read.

Detecting cancer with a mobile phone. (photo credit: ELI MANDELBAUM)


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Video: Eli Mandelbaum

When Apple founder Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone’s mobile app store with a catchphrase promising that whatever need one might have, “there’s an app for that,” he probably wasn’t thinking about screening for cervical cancer.

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Although it’s the leading cause of cancer death among women in low-resource settings, cervical cancer can be easily treated on the spot with freezing gas if it’s caught in the first five years. Often, however, the disease goes undetected. Most screenings rely on the naked eye to look for abnormalities when acetic acid is applied to the cervix.

A colposcope, which can be used to illuminate and magnify the image, can cost as much as $14,000.

That’s where MobileOCT, a Tel Aviv-based startup, comes in. David Levitz, a biomedical engineer and PhD, thought it would be possible to create a colposcope on a mobile phone. He pitched the idea to longtime friend Ariel Beery, who founded and ran social venture accelerator PresenTense, and they decided to put their plan in motion.

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