Lymphedema occurs predominantly in cancer patients. They suffer from swelling on their arms, legs and around the breasts. While lymphedema is certainly treatable using compression tights, lymph node drainage and a controlled diet, it can also cause lasting damage to the skin and adversely affect the mental health of those affected.
Dicronis, a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) based in Monteggio in the Canton of Ticino, has recently developed a solution to enable an early diagnosis of lymphedema. Initially, a plaster fitted with several micro needles is placed on the wrist of the patient. ETH explained in a press release how the micro needles are long enough to penetrate beneath the skin, but not long enough to cause pain to the patient by hitting a nerve.
Patrizia Marschalkova, Founder and CEO of Dicronis, explains: “On contact with the aqueous environment of the skin, the microneedles dissolve and release a fluorescent dye”. After removing the plaster, a smart wristband – similar to a smartwatch – must be worn for a total of six hours. This tracks the absorption of the dye in the lymphatic vessels, meaning that any malfunction can be identified before swelling occurs.
Dicronis has already emerged victorious in a number of start-up competitions, secured the necessary patent, tested the micro needles and found a partner. In the fall, Dicronis intends to initiate a clinical trial, although the start-up does still need to source the requisite funding for this. Dicronis is now pinning its hopes on the 100,000 Swiss franc reward handed out to the winners of the ZKB Pioneer Prize, which is organized by Zürcher Kantonalbank, for which Dicronis has already been nominated. Should everything go according to plan, the start-up’s solution should be available on the market in three years’ time.