Computer Vision has already revolutionized other industries. The vision systems that Constellation builds on are much like the ones that proved effective in sending a driverless car coast-to-coast.
Partly because Constellation’s development relies on existing innovations, this potentially life-saving technology can be demonstrated to the market in less than one year.
Concerns over skin cancer have grown exponentially in recent years. Those with increased risk of skin cancer are spending billions annually on dermatologist visits and mole removal, and spending on sunscreen products and SPF clothing continues to climb. Despite the growing awareness and spending, skin cancer rates increase every year.
In 2011, revenues in the U.S. dermatology market climbed to approximately $10 billion.¹
IBISWorld cites high skin cancer rates as a driving force in the $1 billion U.S. sunscreen market.²
In terms of incidence rates, melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers. The American Cancer Society estimates that 76,690 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2013.
According to the Pew Research Center, one in three American adults are “online diagnosers,” or have gone online to help determine if they have a medical condition.³ As technology has become more advanced, consumers want to take control over their health. Demand for at-home diagnostic tools has grown, and more and more smartphone apps are promising to alert consumers to possible signs of skin cancer. While these apps are growing in popularity, they are extremely limited in their effectiveness. Constellation is in an entirely different category, providing whole-body scanning, flagging subtle mole changes, and promising to change the future of early skin cancer detection resulting in easier treatment.
1. Source: Dermatologists in the US: Market Research Report.” IBISWorld, Dec 2011.
2. Source: Sunscreen Manufacturing in the US: Market Research Report.” IBISWorld, Nov 2012.
3. Source: Health Online 2013.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, January 15, 2013.
When detected early, skin cancer has a cure rate of 99%. But without early detection, survival rates for melanoma plummet. After metastasis, there is virtually no effective treatment for melanoma skin cancer.
Mole changes are the clearest indicators of possible skin cancer. These changes can be subtle and rather rapid, occurring between dermatologist visits. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), the majority of melanomas are found by patients, not by physicians.
Constellation gives patients a powerful new way to perform monthly scans that monitor hundreds of moles, virtually everywhere on the body, and detect even subtle changes.
An affordable price point puts Constellation within reach of a sizeable consumer segment that will welcome a way to conduct quick, monthly scans in the privacy of their homes. Commercial segments also offer diversified revenue opportunities:
In addition, Constellation lends itself to mobile screening programs aimed at underserved, high-risk populations such as agricultural workers.
Constellation leverages existing technology in groundbreaking ways. Leading scientists from MIT and Harvard are among those lending their depth of expertise to this project.
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Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology group at MIT, where he is the Benesse Career Development Professor at the MIT Media Lab, and associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT McGovern Institute.
The tools his group has invented include a suite of ‘optogenetic’ tools that are now in use by hundreds of groups around the world, for activating and silencing neurons with light. These tools for the first time enable the activation, silencing, and readout of specific neurons, revealing with real-time precision their effects. Using a combination of lasers and genetic engineering, he implants brains with optical fibers that allow him to activate special proteins in specific neurons and see their connections. In addition to helping create detailed maps of brain circuitry, the engineering of these cells has been used to cure blindness in mice, and could point the way to cures for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or to ways of connecting to the brain via prosthetics.
Prof. Boyden has launched an award-winning series of classes at MIT that teach principles of neuroengineering, starting with basic principles of how to control and observe neural functions, and culminating with strategies for launching companies in the nascent neurotechnology space. He has contributed to over 250 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents, and articles, and has given over 140 invited talks on his work.
He was named to the “Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35″ by Technology Review in 2006, and to the “Top 20 Brains Under Age 40″ by Discover magazine in 2008. He has received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, the NSF CAREER Award, the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award, and the New York Stem Cell Robertson Investigator Award. In 2010, his work was recognized as the “Method of the Year” by the journal Nature Methods, and in 2011 he delivered a lecture on his lab’s work at TED.
Prof. Boyden received three degrees in electrical engineering and physics from MIT, and his PhD in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned.
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