A bra, universally used to provide support and comfort to the breasts, might offer health benefits, for scientists at the University of Bolton are developing a bra that can detect if the person wearing it is suffering from early-stage breast cancer.
Experts working on the "smart" bra say that it will be able to spot cancer before a tumour can develop and spread.
Professor Elias Siores, inventor of the bra, who works in the Centre for Research and Innovation at the University of Bolton, also claims that the undergarment will be able to assess the effectiveness of any breast cancer treatment its wearer is undergoing.
"It could emit two warnings, audible or visual or both. If the warning persists, you would see a specialist," Discovery News quoted Siores, as saying.
The smart bra works by using a microwave antennae system, which can easily be woven into fabric. The antennae pick up any abnormal temperature changes in the breast tissue, which are linked to breast cancer cells.
Conducting polymers in the fabric would transmit the signals to a small computer chip that would filter the information. Specialized software would assess the information and sound an alarm if conditions indicated the likely presence of cancerous cells.
Siores said that an efficient way to use the bra would be to wear the it while plugged into a power supply for a few minutes during diagnosis.
"This is a truly innovative idea to use some pretty advanced electronics for the detection of breast cancer," said Brian McCarthy, director of TechniTex Faraday, Manchester, U.K., a private company that promotes scientific development.
The lifesaving undergarment will be manufactured within the next two years.