IIT Madras partners with General Insurance Corporation of India to develop a novel Urine-based Tuberculosis diagnosis technology
- 22nd Feb 2023
Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is partnering with General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re), a Public Sector Undertaking, to develop a urine-based tuberculosis diagnosis or screening.
The envisaged product for urine-based TB screening/diagnosis is anticipated to be faster and far more affordable than the existing point-of-care diagnostic kits available for various diseases such as blood glucose monitors.
The key beneficiaries of this project, which is getting CSR funding from the GIC Re, will be Primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare centres besides the Health departments in State and Central Governments.
An MoU towards this CSR partnership was signed on 10th February 2023 by Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, and Ms. Madhulika Bhaskar, Director and General Manager, General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re). IIT Madras has partnered with over 180 entities under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and has raised over Rs. 250 crore to implement 200+ projects till date.
Thanking GIC Re for supporting this project with immense societal applications, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, "We are delighted that GIC Re is partnering with us on this important project to find an early diagnostic tool for Tuberculosis."
Tuberculosis is among the most prevalent infectious diseases in the country and the Government of India has set itself a goal to 'End TB' by 2025. However, these efforts have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Timely, easier, and accessible means of TB diagnosis is key to gaining control over the spread of the disease. The current techniques including GeneXpert and cell-culture methods are limited by infrastructure, cost, or week-to-fortnight-long testing.
A rapid and sensitive screening test could quickly identify the actual cases among suspected cases and help in timely treatment and disease control. With funding support from GIC Re, Researchers at IIT Madras led by Prof. V.V. Raghavendra Sai, Biomedical Engineering, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, aim to solve this problem.
Looking forward to this collaboration, Ms. Madhulika Bhaskar, Director and General Manager, General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re), said, "Collaboration between industry and academia is key to catalyze innovation and growth in technology. Associating with corporates and businesses, provides educational institutions access to more resources to fund and expand their research areas.
At GIC Re, our focus areas are education and health and we are glad to partner with IIT Madras on this meaningful initiative, which incorporates both these core themes."
The Biosensors Laboratory at llT Madras is developing a novel plasmonic fiber optic absorbance biosensor (P-FA8) technology. They have established a laboratory-level proof-of-concept for the detection of a well-reported tuberculosis biomarker in urine, known as 'Upoaabinomannan (LAM).' The results of this study have been published as an original article in a highly reputed research journal - Biosensors and Bioelectronics (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2020.112488).
In parallel, the associated technologies for the fabrication of fiber optic sensor probes and readout device schemes have been designed and developed and the technology is transferred to two start-ups based in India and US. The next step towards bringing the urinary marker-based TB diagnosis is the systematic clinical validation study of the P-FAB diagnostic technology with TB patient samples. This research project envisages taking up this critical task and bringing it closer to the deployment of this technology in primary healthcare centres (PHCs).
IIT Madras will be developing the proof-of-concept for the urine-based TB screening/diagnosis. The know-how and the relevant technologies will be made available to start-ups or diagnostic kit manufacturers.
IIT Madras has already developed and patented the technologies for fiber optic sensor probe fabrication and optoelectronic readout devices. The intellectual property will be licensed to the interested parties for the envisaged application on a case-to-case basis.
This research project will help in establishing the proof-of-concept at the clinical level. Over two to three years, with the help of partnerships with appropriate industry partners, the product will be available for use and wide deployment.