The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs features Onko Solutions in their publication

October 5, 2016

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women and the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths for women worldwide. While cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable disease, one woman in the world dies from it every two minutes. How is this possible?

“Geography plays an important role in cervical cancer incidence and death rates,” says Hector Torres, cofounder and CEO of Onko Solutions, a company that develops technology to the detect and prevent cervical cancer. “Cervical cancer is more common in Latin America and Africa, where more than 80% of cases occur, mainly due to limited access to cervical cancer screening.” According to Mexico’s National Institute of Cancerology, a woman dies from cervical cancer every two hours in this country. Read more here.

Onko Solutions featured on CB Insights

September 10, 2016

As CB Insights says, it's not always about privileged consumers or the 1%. These are private companies tackling real problems that disenfranchised citizens and consumers face around the globe.

Per CB Insights "Frequently we hear talk about how startups are only catering to wealthier individuals in developed economies, or even the 1%. However, there are many startups in the CB Insights database who are targeting underserved populations with healthcare, financial, or energy services tailored to these consumers’ specific needs. Here are 32 companies targeting those opportunities around the globe." Read more here.

'Delaying my smear test appointment almost cost me my life - don't put yours off'

By Grace Macaskill
Published in The Mirror
September 26, 2016

As many as 350 more women a year would survive cervical cancer if every patient aged 25 to 64 had the smear tests they were invited to, a study has found.

That’s almost a fifth more than the 1,900 saved already by screening. Here, school administrator Frankie Appleyard, 29, of South London, tells how delaying a smear test almost cost her the chance to one day have a family.

Like many couples, my boyfriend Tom and I often talk about the future – and the possibility of having children. Kids may be a few years away for us yet, but I feel incredibly fortunate to even be able to have the conversation.

For the choice of ever becoming a mum was almost lost to me. In early 2012 I was invited for my first cervical screening test at my GP surgery. With a hectic job at the time as a retail manager in Leeds, and having moved a bit further away from my GP, I never seemed to find the time to make an appointment.

Of course, there was also the general embarrassment of having to take my underwear off in front of a stranger. In the back of my mind I knew I must get round to it, but cervical cancer was something I didn’t think applied to me.

Wrong. I finally went for the test more than a year later, in June 2013, and was shocked to be told there were severely abnormal cells in my cervix. I was in floods of tears by the time a friend picked me up. A few days later I went for a colposcopy at St James’ Hospital , Leeds, for the cells to be removed and a biopsy taken. They said it didn’t look like it had developed into cancer. I would not know for six weeks.

As the weeks went by I started to relax – no news was good news. The day before the six-week deadline, I got called back to the clinic, where a doctor told me, ‘I’m really sorry, but you have cancer.’

I was only 26. When I heard the word cancer it was just like that scene in the adverts where people start tuning out from whatever the doctor is saying and their vision goes all blurry. The doctor said it was Stage 1 cancer, but I didn’t know what that meant. He said there would be a meeting to decide my treatment once I’d had an MRI scan.

I called my older sister Petra, 33, who got straight on a train from York. Then I went back to work. I didn’t know what else to do. Two weeks later I had an MRI scan and was told I’d have to wait a month to meet the consultant about my treatment. I kept thinking, ‘This is the urgent bit’. When the day finally arrived I was asked if I knew about my hysterectomy next week.

I couldn’t believe my ears. It hadn’t occurred to me this would be the next step. I didn’t even have a boyfriend, never mind children. And now my future was being taken away. I had already spent hours reading up on treatment and talking to others on the Jo’s Cervical Cancer.

It was a godsend being in touch with people with the same issues, facing different surgery and treatment. It was there I’d read about an operation to remove the cervix, without taking away the womb. Being so young, I never considered I’d be offered any procedure but that.

When I explained this to the consultant she brought in another doctor who said they could do that – but the tumour, about the size of a grape, was quite high up and they would be worried about getting all the cancer cells. Petra begged me to have the hysterectomy so there was no risk of the cancer returning.

As we talked in the hospital canteen, she offered to be a surrogate if I wanted to have a baby in the future. But I knew I wanted to keep my womb. I wanted the option to carry my own children one day.

A week later I had my cervix removed. Lymph nodes were taken to test if it had spread. Two weeks later they came back negative – I wouldn’t need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I was over the moon. But I’d been incredibly lucky. If I’d left the smear test any longer I may have lost the chance of children – or maybe even my life.

I would urge every young woman to attend for the test as soon as they get that letter. It could save their life. I also want to see schoolgirls take up the offer of the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination which can protect against cervical cancer.

Girls of 12 and 13 are given the injections, but there’s concern from parents about side-effects. Whatever the effects, they can not be as bad as having cervical cancer.

I’m really pleased I kept my womb. Tom and I were just friends before, but he was incredibly supportive. I guess that’s partly how I fell in love. Now we’re looking forward to a happy future. And hopefully, one that will one day include children.


Onko Solutions Welcomes Three New Members to their Advisory Board

May 2, 2016

Onko Solutions is pleased to announce the recent addition of three new members to their advisory board. Dr. Irving Bigio, Dr. Ricardo Lua and Procopio Villarreal join Onko’s robust and diverse advisory board.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Bigio, Dr. Lua and Mr. Villarreal as part our team,” Hector Torres, Onko Solutions’ CEO, said. “Their vast knowledge and experience will boost our efforts to eradicate cervical cancer.”

Dr. Bigio is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. His areas of expertise include medical applications of optics, lasers and spectroscopy, as well as applied spectroscopy to biomedical problems. As part of Onko’s Advisory Board, Dr. Bigio will focus on the optical spectroscopy area of Onko’s medical devices.

Dr. Ricardo Lua’s career spans over a decade. He is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara’s Medical School and specializes in endoscopic surgery, gynecological surgery, fertility and laparoscopy. Dr. Lua is spearheading clinical trials of Onko’s devices, including VitaScreen and TruScreen, in Mexico.

Procopio Villarreal is a professor of Electrical Engineering at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. He is also the founder and director of Expertis, an engineering services company that has developed more than 300 projects for the consumer, automotive, industrial and telecommunications industries. Mr. Villarreal will focus on the electrical design of Onko’s medical devices.

“Our team and advisory board is unmistakably strong,” said Mr. Torres, “and I have no doubt that these additions will further cement us as leaders in women’s healthcare."


Onko Solutions closes Series A financing round

February 10, 2016

Onko Solutions is pleased to announce it has closed its Series A financing round, raising a total of $1.6 million USD for the commercialization of a cervical cancer screening device that aims to replace the Pap smear as the worldwide standard. Onko's medical device offers accurate, instantaneous, and accessible cervical cancer screening for marginalized communities and women in general.

Investors in the Series A round include three of the most prominent institutional funds in Mexico: Angel Ventures Mexico, Promotora Social Mexico, and Ambar Capital. The broad network and influence of all three investment groups strongly aligns with Onko's business objectives, representing a substantial value add beyond capital.

Series A funds will support ongoing product development, manufacturing, and ongoing marketing activities in the Mexican market. The company plans to capture a substantial portion of the eight million cervical cancer screenings performed in Mexico every year, while reaching the 35 million women in Mexico who currently don't receive any type of cervical cancer screening.

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Onko Solutions Granted Patent from USPTO for Medical Device to Detect Cervical Cancer

December 2, 2015

Onko Solutions, a company committed to the development and commercialization of innovative technology solutions that contribute to the detection, prevention and treatment of cancer, announced today the issuance of a new patent for an optoelectronic device for early detection of cervical cancer by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent US20150105669, titled “Optoelectronic device for the detection of uterine cervical cancer, comprising a self-positioning attachment” protects the intellectual property of the company and its device to carry out cervical cancer tests.

This new patent strengthens Onko’s current portfolio which currently includes “Medical device for cell and virus sampling of the endocervix and ectocervix” (MX308869) and “Portable medical device por self-diagnosis tests of cervical cancer through simultaneous electrical and optical measurements” (MX261228).

“We are excited and satisfied that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted the patent,” said Hector Torres, Onko’s CEO. “This is an steady step aligned with our objective to make cervical cancer a thing of the past.”

Onko Solutions is now part of the Village Health Capital Program

 October 2015

Onko has been selected among dozens of other organizations to be part of the Village Capital program in association with the Hitachi Foundation. The goal of this program  is to find solutions to breach the gap that exists between the base of the pyramid and access to health care.

The programs looks for, selects, trains and invest in entrepreneurs committed to solve world problems. This is the case of Onko Solutions, whose research, development and commercialization of medical devices to detect and prevent cervical cancer make it an ideal organization to be a part of this program. Onko’s medical devices contribute to the access to healthcare to individuals that live in marginalized regions all over the world.

As part of Village Capital, Onko has been awarded $100K USD and has the opportunity to present its project to investors and potential clients, as well access to industry leaders.

Mexico's COFEPRIS approves medical device to prevent and detect cervical cancer in real time

  September 2015

Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) has approved the use of a medical device to detect cervical cancer in real time without the need of a tissue sample. The device, known as TruScreen®, is benig offered by Soluciones en Dispositivos Medicos, headquartered in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. SDM is an entity of Texan corporation Onko Solutions. The medical device also works as a companion to traditional colposcopy in order to improve the study’s reliability.

TruScreen® is a new technology used to detect pre-cancerous change, or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), by optical and electrical measurements of cervical tissue. TruScreen® is an objective, self-checking digital system that can be used with minimal training, and without the infrastructure and resource costs associated with cytology-based screening.

As well as high accuracy, TruScreen® provides an instant report and a more humane approach to women than a Pap test because no cervical tissue needs to be taken during the test.

President of Mexico bestows award to Onko’s CTO

  October 2015

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, greets Dr. Jesus Seañez, Onko’s CTO.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto recognized Dr. Jesús Seañez, Onko SOlutions’ CTO, during the Week of the Entrepreneur. The President said that thanks to entrepreneurs like Dr. Seañez “a contribution is being made to job creation.”

Dr. Seañez was recognized for his role in the research and development of a medical device to detect cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women worldwide, and which kills a woman every two minutes.

The event took place at Mexico City's Bancomer Center in Santa Fe. Among other authorities present were the Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo and Mexico State’s governor Eruviel Avila.

The ceremony was part of the National Week of the Entrepreneur, which was described by Enrique Jacob Rocha, president of the National Institute of Entrepreneurship, as “a space for entrepreneurs and industry leaders to connect with experiences, learning, ideas, inspiration, contacts, business opportunities, support and backups to launch their projects.”

The Mexican President said that the government is a “permanent ally, firm and decided, to entrepreneurs” as is Dr. Seañez. Jacob Rocha added that people like Dr. Seañez “are writing a new page in Mexico’s history.”

Onko Solution Creates Medical Device to Detect Cervical Cancer

By Alejandra Buendía
Published in El Norte
April 29, 2015

Cervical cancer is the third most common kind of cancer in Mexico and the number one cause of death by abnormal malign masses in the tissue in women between 25 and 64. 

In this grim scenario, prevention is key, and a device developed in Monterrey could, in the near future, replace the traditional and many times bothersome detection method known as the Pap smear.

Onko Solutions has developed a medical device that detects this disease without the need of gynecological intervention, and which is about to obtain its second million dollars in investment, said Hector Torres, the company's CEO.

The device is already patented and has an efficiency of 92%, compared to the 30% of a Pap Smear. Additionally, the results are ready in minutes.

Prior to the launch of its own device, the company will distribute in Mexico a similar device by the Australian company TruScreen, with which they have an agreement to distribute in Mexico and other countries.

Meanwhile, its researchers will continue the development of the device that they will distribute directly to gynecologists and pharmacies.

After its launch in Mexico, Onko plans to distribute the device in other countries in Latin America, and once they have FDA approval, in the United States.

"In Mexico 8 million Pap smears are carried out every year, and in the United States 60 millions are carried out," said Torres when talking about the size of the market.

Funding was provided by Angeles Mexico Ventures and a private investor so that Onko can finalize the development of its device and launch it to the Mexican market in early 2016.

Noel León, Olivia Barrón, Jesús Seañez and Héctor Torres are part of Onko Solutions.

TruScreen Commences 100,000 Patient Program in China

  May 19, 2015

TruScreen Limited, a New Zealand company with a unique real time cervical cancer screening technology has announced that it has entered into a collaborative program to screen 100,000 women in the Peoples Republic of China.

The program is a joint initiative between the China Doctors Association, Beijing SiweiXiangtai Tech Co Ltd (a principal distributor of TruScreen’s products in China), and TruScreen.

The screening program will be led by Professor Zhang Zhenyu from the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital. Covering every province in China the program will involve 100 hospitals and 1,000 patients per hospital.

TruScreen’s objective is to leverage off this program and extend the reach, scope and volume of women being screened in respect of this particular program over time.

This is the first of the major programs that are expected to be announced by TruScreen following its gaining of China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) regulatory approval on April 30, 2015.

This program represents just one of many prospective distribution channels for TruScreen’s product in China. TruScreen is working hard with its distribution partners in China to develop a significant network of similar screening programs throughout China and a number of other international jurisdictions.

TruScreen CEO Martin Dillon estimates the Chinese cervical cancer screening market to be worth an estimated $1bn per annum.

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