Skin scan for cancer: Indian-American students develop app


Vidushi Meel and Asritha Bodepudi, students at Lexington High School in the City of Lexington, State of Massachusetts, are passionate about technology.

During one of their science projects, in 2019, they came up with an idea to build an app that will help healthcare providers in diagnosing their patients more effectively during pre-biopsy scanning. That was how the Mole scan app that could detect melanoma skin moles was born.

Vidushi Meel with Asritha Bodepudi (Laptop) at 2019 Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF).

When asked what led to the initiation of the app, Meel said, “We started the Mole Scan app on our own as a side project during school (science project )because we came up with the idea and saw that not much successful work had been done by other people into the idea.”

“We are considering the possibility of making it solely available to healthcare providers as a tool used during pre-biopsy decision making,” she added.

For more than a year and a half, both the girls have been fine-tuning the app, says what started as a simple science project slowly started to evolve into something much serious and with impact on real-life and positive feedback.

Explaining further, Meel said just to test if their application, “We also entered our project into the Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair (MSEF) before we had an app prototype. Without the prototype, we won a third-place award at the state level,” said Meel and added they are planning to enter it again this year, as the app is more than just a machine learning model, but instead it’s a well-developed iOS app.

Though the state competition is in May 2021, said ” but we are building this app also for our own interest not just for the science fair. We believe it has gone past the point of being relevant only to Science Fair and is now a priority above using it.”

When asked on what kind of research they undertook, the girls said that over time they have run more than one thousand tests on random images of benign and malignant. This was possible after they have approached many clinics that “we are in partnership with and have a 98% accuracy rate.”

Finding a promising result, the girls said that they are now planning to get this accuracy rate up much higher before publishing.

When asked about how they are going to market the app, they said, “One of the goals of the Mode app is, it will remain free so long that its available to the public as accessible health care. And the app is programmed to provide people of all walks of life with some high-quality form of free immediate medical attention.”

The girls explained that they do not intend to “burden people looking for medical care with more expenses”.

“There are no fees to get the app or predicted in-app purchases. It offers instant results,” said Meel, whose Mentor is Dr. Glenn Allen (Ph.D.) of Lexington High School, “who has been very supportive and interested in our progress.”

Meel said they have planned to launch the app by January 2021. Currently, it is under the testing stage, as it is being thoroughly vetted before it is put out to the public as a reliable tool.