At biotech startup occasion, typhoid RT-PCR, cataract detection by way of WhatsApp

EXPANDING RT-PCR based mostly testing to ailments apart from Covid-19, vaccine codecs that obviate the necessity for chilly chains, transportable and cutting-edge wearables, and AI-based diagnostic options that may be activated on a cellphone. Rewiring and tweaking current medical applied sciences and diagnostic strategies — primarily within the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic — was the overarching theme on the two-day Biotech Startup Expo 2022 within the capital which ended on Friday.

There had been over 300 stalls spanning the biotech spectrum — medical know-how, agricultural tech, diagnostics, vaccine know-how, biotech incubators and so forth.

Tucked in a nook of the Expo corridor on the newly-built Pragati Maidan complicated in New Delhi was a stall of Graphic Era Deemed University, Dehradun, the place three senior professors from the biotechnology division stood in entrance of a marquee that learn “RT-PCR based testing for typhoid”.

“The current method for detecting salmonella typhi (for typhoid) is an elaborate one, but is still quite inaccurate. Our research department has developed and patented an RT-PCR based testing kit to detect the disease,” Navin Kumar, Professor and Head of Biotechnology at Graphic Era, mentioned.

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While the testing equipment was developed over seven years in the past, Kumar mentioned the relevance of such a way has elevated now. “Before the pandemic, the RT-PCR infrastructure was not widespread, but it is now present across small towns and villages, where people have been tested for Covid-19. This has presented an opportunity for other diseases to be diagnosed using RT-PCR methods,” he mentioned.

Compared to different strategies, RT-PCR is nearly solely correct, mentioned Kumar, including that RT-PCR checks for the precise pathogen, as in comparison with different prognosis strategies that search for antigens or antibodies.

The deemed college has commercialised this methodology beneath a know-how switch association with Delhi-based Vanguard Diagnostics – a producer of diagnostic merchandise.

At one other stall on the Expo, Vanguard Diagnostics’ Director, Technical, R P Tiwari identified that with the prevalence of RT-PCR testing infrastructure throughout the size and breadth of the nation, the price of conducting such exams for different illnesses has decreased.

“Earlier, some labs did RT-PCR testing to check for hepatitis, but that cost more than Rs 7,000. Now, there are machines all over that will become useless once Covid-19 has eased. With just different testing kits, we will be able to get accurate diagnosis on diseases such as typhoid, malaria, and any other disease involving a virus, bacteria, etc.,” Tiwari mentioned. He mentioned the corporate has over 200 distributors which can be serving to it ship these merchandise pan-India.

The geographical expanse and heterogeneity of the nation additionally presents sure challenges by way of logistics – a priority that was initially confronted by vaccine makers in the course of the pandemic. A Bengaluru-based biotech startup, Mynvax, which was incubated on the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), is creating a “warm vaccine” that eliminates the necessity for expensive and elaborate chilly storage provide chain methods. The firm claims that when lyophilised (freeze drying), its Covid-19 vaccine can face up to 90 minutes of publicity to 100 levels Celsius, and over a month at 37 levels Celsius.

The Mynvax vaccine for Covid-19 is being constructed on the recombinant subunit platform as in comparison with the cell-culture or egg-based know-how, which permits it to get manufactured sooner. The startup, which has raised early stage funding from traders like Accel, is engaged on creating human influenza vaccines as nicely.

Besides Covid-focussed or led options, another startups on the Expo aimed to deliver out merchandise that clear up India-specific issues. For instance, a recurrent theme was the unavailability of huge and complicated prognosis and monitoring gear in rural areas. So, USAID-backed Bengaluru-based startup Cardiac Design Labs has developed a five-in-one wearable system that claims to observe a affected person’s vitals practically akin to that in an intensive care unit (ICU), with out the necessity for heavy gear or educated care employees.

The product, named Padma Vitals, information info like non-electrode ECG, cuffless blood strain, respiration charge, physique temperature and blood oxygen saturation ranges, with options comparable to alarms, distant monitoring, pattern recording, episode detection, and so forth.

Speaking to The Sunday Express, the corporate’s Founder & CEO, Anand Madanagopal, mentioned the product is seeing use-cases at main well being care centres, distant medical amenities and residential healthcare amenities amongst others.

“The device connects to a mobile phone app via bluetooth, and thereon it requires only 20 kbps bandwidth to upload the data to the centralised system from where a doctor can remotely monitor a patient’s vitals. A key aspect of this product is that it does not require trained nurses to operate this,” he mentioned, as he demonstrated the vitals of a affected person in Bengaluru on his laptop computer.

Over the previous couple of many years, the subsumption of varied units and applied sciences into the smartphone has spurred significant innovation within the well being tech trade. Hyderabad-based Logy.AI has constructed synthetic intelligence options that permit folks to ship a WhatsApp picture of their eyes or enamel to an automatic message bot, which then feeds the picture to the AI engine for it to diagnose an issue. The startup claims to make use of synthetic intelligence-based picture processing fashions to gauge – from the photograph of eyes despatched as a WhatsApp message – whether or not an individual has cataract, which the startup says is liable for 70 per cent of blindness in India.

The startup’s service for customers is finished by way of a WhatsApp chatbot, the place customers can ship a picture of their eyes within the chat field and Logy.AI’s picture processing algorithms will assess the picture to determine whether or not or not that individual has cataract. It claims that its picture processing algorithms can detect whether or not an individual has cataract or not with an accuracy of round 92 per cent.

Logy.AI says it won’t cost any payment from customers for its service. It mentioned that its income will come from partnerships with hospitals and diagnostics companies – it plans to cost an annual payment from these entities to share customers’ information in order that hospitals can counsel cures/ exams to these with medical points.

Also on the Expo was Ahmedabad-based Bioscan Research, which has developed a screening system to detect intracranial haemorrhage referred to as Cerebo, that may discover out if a head trauma affected person is struggling inner bleeding, in a non-invasive and non-radiative methodology. The transportable system, which has been listed on the federal government’s procurement portal GeM (Government e-Marketplace), prices Rs 14 lakh.

A consultant of the startup mentioned the primary use-case was for sports activities groups, emergency rooms and trauma centres that may function the transportable system with out the necessity for classy MRI machines or different radiation-based prognosis gear that additionally want licensing from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to function.

The Cerebo works on the near-infrared know-how, which in medical use, primarily has utility to display screen intracranial bleeding. “The product helps in early detection of internal bleeding. A doctor on site may be able to gauge whether a trauma patient has a concussion but any delay in judging the bleeding can be dangerous,” mentioned the consultant.

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