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TB detecting app to be repurposed for Covid-19 pre-screening

By Snehal Fernandes, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 24, 2020 11:00 PM IST

A mobile app, which screened if an individual needed to get tested for tuberculosis (TB), based on the sound of the cough, is set to be repurposed as a pre-screening technology for Covid-19. The mobile application developed by Hyderabad-based start-ups Docturnal and Salcit are among seven deep science technologies identified by the Bengaluru-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) Covid-19 Innovations Deployment Accelerator (C-CIDA).

“As the pandemic expands beyond local transmission, it is essential to step on the testing pedal. This pre-screening technology can help identify asymptomatic individuals, those quarantined in a sealed apartment and even in rural areas where there is a shortage of healthcare workers,” said Taslimarif Saiyed, director and chief executive officer, C-CAMP.

C-CIDA’s third list of innovations for near-ready deployment in areas of screening, monitoring, diagnostics and novel approaches in therapeutics employs artificial intelligence/machine learning for stem cell therapeutics, ultrafast molecular assays for rapid diagnostics, cloud-based mobility for telemedicine support.

Since its launch on March 26, C-CIDA received more than 900 applications, and have so far chosen 23 innovations that can play a role in containing the spread of the pandemic. “We have appointed a nodal officer to handhold each start-up and help them connect with funding opportunities including grants and investments, navigate regulatory pathways, and provide government and industry links to scale-up their innovative products,” said Saiyed.

Similar to Docturnal and Salcit, Bengaluru-based Predible and Analytek are radiology-based (CT scans and X-rays) that offer real-time analysis for the initial prognosis of individuals suspected with Covid-19.

With research throwing up Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a potential novel therapeutic approach for critically ill Covid-19 patients, MSC-based therapy is currently undergoing clinical trials in Europe. Bengaluru-based Stempeutics is the only Indian/Asian stem-cell therapy solution being tested alongside companies from Israel, USA and Europe.

Huwel Lifesciences Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad, is an indigenous ICMR-approved NARI validated real-time qualitative PCR kit for quick diagnostics. “With all molecular reagents and diagnostic consumables made in-house, their ultrafast and sensitive chip-based PCR can handle large volumes making rapid and confirmatory diagnosis accessible,” said C-CIDA.

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