The technology promises to offer a rapid, affordable, easy-to-use, and point of care solution.
India has a high burden of tuberculosis, recording close to 2.64 million cases and 75,000 plus deaths in 2019. A considerable percentage of these cases come from underdeveloped, remote areas without proper access to healthcare services. It is a huge challenge to triage, screen, and monitor it promptly, and at scale, with minimal resources.
A project enabled by the Bengaluru-based Center for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, (C-CAMP), and supported by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), has led to the development of a technology that promises to offer a rapid, affordable, easy-to-use, and point of care solution.
It is an AI-based mobile app. A person just has to cough into a mobile phone and receive an assessment of whether he or she is suffering from any lung disease through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). A doctor could then go through the report and determine the next course of action.
Salcit Technologies, a start-up supported by C-CAMP, had first developed the platform named Swaasa for general lung assessment. Subsequently, under a consortium project supported by the FCDO, C-CAMP brought together technical, clinical & health systems expertise through Andhra Medical College (AMC), and PATH, an international, non-profit health organization based in Seattle, to extend and develop this platform to triage for COVID-19, besides TB. While TB has been a perpetual problem, there seems to be no early end to COVID-19, also a lung disease.
According to a release from C-CAMP, the development, validation, and pilot deployment of this technology has been extremely promising, with triaging results showing more than 95% sensitivity under laboratory conditions for COVID-19. There will be further testing at the field level. C-CAMP will continue to actively catalyze the commercialization efforts through its national and international ecosystem which includes diverse stakeholders from industry, government, clinical, and the investor community, it added.
The technology was showcased to the British Deputy High Commissioner to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Dr. Andrew Fleming, at the Govt. Chest & TB Hospital, Andhra Medical College, Vishakhapatnam in the presence of Dr. Niranjan Joshi, Associate Program Lead, C-CAMP, Dr. P.V Sudhakar, Former Principal, Andhra Medical College, Dr. K.V.V. Vijaya Kumar, Superintendent, Chest & TB Hospital, and Manmohan Jain, CSO, Salcit Technologies.
“After the success of the UK-India Astra-Zeneca vaccine collaboration, our bilateral health tech partnership goes from strength to strength with this AI solution. Through this, there can be huge savings in terms of cost and time to the health system,” said Dr. Fleming. He also checked the functionality of the technology by taking the test on the spot, through the Swaasa app, well within a minute.
Dr. Kumar noted, “I thank C-CAMP for bringing all of us on the common platform. Tools such as this are very helpful for us. This will reduce the immense burden on the hospital. We hope that this technology can be extended even further for other lung ailments like Asthma, Bronchitis, and COPD.”
“For more than 10 years, C-CAMP has played a major role in India in enabling deep-tech innovations from a very early stage with entrepreneurship as a vehicle. We have so far supported more than 300 innovations. This AI platform is one such example of C-CAMP’s efforts. Once developed and proven, these innovations will not only create impact for the society in India but also be scaled in other low & middle-income geographies across the world,” said Dr. Taslimarif Saiyed, C-CAMP CEO & Director.