They decided to put it into practice through a thesis project. They received good comments from their advisors, which led them to submit it to an Avon brand contest, interested in supporting initiatives against breast cancer. Upon winning, they obtained the necessary funds to establish the company.
"Thermy is a complementary study that analyzes the body's heat through artificial intelligence to find abnormalities that represent breast cancer. We take a picture of the patient's chest, with a special camera, and our software does the rest. The result is then analyzed by a specialist, "explained the Mexican scientist.
Its main advantages with respect to mammography is not to be invasive – since there is no contact with the person -, painless and 100% safe, because no radiation is used. This allows the test to be carried out more than once a year, unlike what happens with the traditional method.
"When a tumor occurs, the cells begin to multiply. This produces greater metabolic consumption, greater blood flow and this is reflected in an increase in temperature. With our device we can see these heat points that are asymmetric," Merino added. .
Thermy has already been tested in 3,000 patients at the Breast Cancer Foundation (FUCAM) in Mexico, with 100 positive results. So far it has been 95% effective, unlike mammography that has an accuracy of between 80 and 90%.
While this is only recommended for women over 40, the new thermographic test can be used after 20 years. Something that is very useful since 15% of breast cancers in Mexico occur before 40.
"Mastography when using X-rays depends a lot on the density of the breast, that is, the more muscle tissue there is, the worse. That is why this method does not give an accurate result to young women," Merino said.
In the future, the objective is that the technology of the cameras "may be small enough" to be able to connect to the cell phones and that the patients are tested in their homes, without having to go to the doctor.