A life-saving wearable designed to prevent breast cancer

Designer Sarah Da Costa has created Material Pharmacy, a prototype bra capable of treating young women prone to developing breast cancer, while studying on the Material Futures course at Central St Martins.

The bra, developed closely with Dr. Ipsita Roy, a UK Reader of Microbial Biotechnology at the University of Westminster, uses an embedded bio-polymer skin, to deliver anti-oestrogen drug Tamoxifen through skin contact, rather than through a daily tablet or cream. The aim being to avoid the usual side effects of the drug when taken orally.

The soft, green design of the wearable, which has leaf like veins running through it, was cleverly derived from the very drug it’s made to deliver. Tamoxifen comes from the Foxglove, a tall, curvaceous plant, also known to help alleviate heart conditions. Asha, a headscarf that uses microencapsulation to deliver essential oils to women encountering hair loss, was also an inspiration for the project.

In the past wearables have primarily been associated with fitness trackers, smart watches or accessories that help monitor an emotional state, but the Material Pharmacy project demonstrates the potential to combine health technology and fashion design in a new and supportive way. Da Costa is already working on a new wearable sleepwear for people with dementia.