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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Pune-based innovator helps to see grey matter in desi light

Curiosity about human performance pushed Rajesh Purushottam to build NeuroshieldTM, a neuro diagnostic tool

pune Updated: Jan 27, 2019 15:14 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Rajesh Purshottam (standing) with his team member Juhi Desai, R&D manager at his office in NCL innovation park on Tuesday.
Rajesh Purshottam (standing) with his team member Juhi Desai, R&D manager at his office in NCL innovation park on Tuesday.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
         

When you are in your forties, you tread gently onto the entrepreneurial path. You gauge the ecosystem, you study the terrain before you step foot on it. For Rajesh Purshottam founder In-Med Prognostics who built NeuroShieldTM, a neuro diagnostic tool, the journey started similarly. “I was working with Thermax for 18 years, then GE, Motorola, Vedanta. At Thermax I moved from engineering for which I was trained in HR and got curious about human performance, ” said Purushottam.

In 2013, he joined Statim healthcare that was into tele-radiology and he met Dr Lata Poonamalle and Dr Al Curran that set him off onto In-Med.

NeuroShieldTM, an AI and machine learning based tool, helps neuro-radiologists, neurophysicians and psychiatrists better understand the brain, effects of different conditions and can predict for now, early onset dementia.

“Dementia is a serious healthcare problem where the patient will require assistance depending on the severity. This problem can be diagnosed as early as five years before it actually sets in and aids doctors devise strategies,” he said. NeuroShieldTM is basically a volumetric MRI that gives a close to accurate picture of the brain.

“This vMRI as it is called exists in the West and is used extensively for neurodegenerative disorders. In the West, insurance companies drive research companies to develop tools that make diagnosis better and better. With a vMRI a doctor can predict and even delay onset of neurodegenerative disorders making insurance pay-outs easier to predict,” he said.

The companies in the USA and Europe were not keen on bringing the tool to India.

“This meant developing a diagnostic tool that would help patients. NeuroShield will start with MRI and slowly will build upto a complete Clinical Decision Support Tool,” he said.

Before the co-founders formed the Indian company Prognostics In- Med Pvt Ltd, in January 2018, they had set up In-Med Prognostics L3C in the USA with Poonamalle and Curran.

“From 2016 onwards we were doing research on the brain. We collected different types of data, hired researchers in India and then found that neurodegenerative disease was a neglected area. We met Professor Dr Prasun Roy from IIT-BHU, who informed us about Voxel Based Morphometry (VBM) and its capabilies for prognostics from brain images.

The NeuroShield is an AI and machine learning based cloud platform. It is the first time that something like this has been built in India. In the USA, Denmark, Germany and Belgium they have products based on MRI volumetry but nothing in India. Purushottam did a proof of concept study at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in 2017 where they analysed data of a 100 patients. Their tool will identify MRIs and search patterns on it.

The key to all this is the computational power and imaging and data analytics that was developed by Juhi Desai who is the R&D manager.

“She has an MSc in Medical Imaging and along with some resources and a cost of ₹20 lakhs had it ready in September 2018. She was our first employee. She carried out the research Dr Anirudha Joshi and Dr Rahul Kulkarni at DMH and now will present the outcomes at European Congress of Radiology, Vienna 2019.”

In December 2018 they got a grant from BIRAC of ₹50 lakhs. “This money will be used to build NeuroShield 1.0. The earlier PoC was just a demo, now we need to develop one for commercialisation,” he said. Says Dr Latha, “It is possible to do frugal innovation in India. Everything you need is available. India is rich with talent now.”

First Published: Jan 27, 2019 14:36 IST