Héctor Torres
CEO
Onko Solutions México
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View from the Top

Shining a Light on Cervical Cancer

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 17:08

Q: How is Onko Solutions México changing the paradigms of healthcare in Mexico?

A: In Mexico, over 5,000 women die every year of cervical cancer. The HPV virus, the main cause of this type of cancer, is known as a silent killer, as it presents no symptoms until the cancer is in an advanced stage. However, this type of cancer is easy to treat and has a high remission rate when detected early. Sadly, current tests have failed to properly detect cancer until the later stages. It is important to create awareness that current tests like pap smear are obsolete.

Onko Solutions México’s InstaPAP test is a new platform that incorporates state-of-the-art technology backed by cloud access to deliver a faster and better test for cervical cancer. This test provides an immediate result, empowering doctors to offer follow-up care on the spot. The test is also less invasive than a pap test because the latter entails scratching the surface of the cervix.

Q: What is behind InstaPAP’s state-of-the-art technology?

A: Once cells become cancerous, their shape and nucleus change, reflecting light in a different way. Our equipment measures how light is reflected in the tissue, which allows us to determine if cancer exists and its level of severity. Additionally, our device performs a series of electrical impulses to measure tissue density, providing a sensitivity of 92 percent.

In addition to high efficacy, InstaPAP has the advantage of providing immediate results, allowing doctors to inform patients. Initially, we hoped InstaPAP would be a product that women could acquire at pharmacies and use by themselves at home to then take the results to their doctors. However, although this initial plan was feasible, we discovered that it would not be possible to implement this vision without gynecological approval. We switched our strategy and began creating close relationships with doctors who would then trust the technology and recommend the product.

Q: How did Onko Solutions México develop the technology behind InstaPAP?

A: Onko Solutions México began operating in mid-2016 by importing Truscreen from Australia, a small wand that measures optical and electric signals in cervical tissue. We are the first and only distributor of Truscreen in the Americas.

While testing InstaPAP with physicians, we observed higher detection rates than with standard pap tests. Recently, we also performed a series of clinical tests in Guadalajara and Michoacan and we observed that out of 10 women with cervical cancer, pap tests only detected three cancer cases while InstaPAP detected nine.

Q: How is Onko Solutions México expanding its presence in the Mexican market?

A: The public healthcare sector performs approximately 50 percent of all pap tests, so we are interested in entering this sector. However, at this moment we are well-positioned in the high-income segment, with presence in 16 states. Our primary market is gynecologists, but we are exploring alternatives. Onko Solutions México is also exploring the possibility of incorporating into health centers located in multiple platforms such as pharmacies, subways, mobile units. These last platforms are ideal for us as the equipment can be used by general practitioners or nurses. We have performed more than 4,000 free tests across Mexico.

Q: What are Onko Solution’s main objectives for 2018?

A: Our short-term goal is to speed up the use of these devices in Mexico and Latin America, so we are looking at Colombia, Chile and Peru. Another target is to gain FDA certification. During early 2018, we will provide 20 free InstaPAP devices to gynecologists to acquire their feedback on the equipment, which we will use to upgrade the platform, software and hardware. We plan to introduce the device to the Mexican market by March 2018. The current disposable unit costs approximately MX$400 and the new one will have a substantial cost reduction.