Vaccines to test kits, 8 IISc startups have pandemic solutions
BENGALURU: For years, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has been incubating startups that can convert lab research into products for the market. Now at least eight of the nearly 30 incubations have worked on multiple Covid innovations. “Overall incubation activity has improved,” CS Murali, chairman, SID, said. “While it is heartening to see so many young minds striving to innovate, what makes us and the institute proud is also the fact that they bring so many scalable technologies to the table. And, we are happy to see that at least eight of our startups have either already developed solutions for Covid-19 or are developing solutions that will soon be market-ready.”
Here are the firms:
Equine Biotech, a social entrepreneurial initiative by Prof Utpal Tatu, IISc’s department of biochemistry, has engineered and developed an extremely sensitive, rapid, and affordable diagnostic kit that is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). This government of Karnataka and government of India recognized startup is involved in developing diagnostics for emerging infectious diseases. The company has now developed an RT-PCR diagnostic kit — GlobalTM diagnostic kit — for accurate and affordable diagnosis of Covid-19. Equine Biotech is looking to licence the above kit for large-scale manufacturing and sale. The agreement would involve tec h transfer and support in manufacturing of kits.
Azooka Life Sciences
Azooka, a unique specialty fluorescent dyes company, has patented DNA and RNA stains that are widely used in molecular diagnostics. The firm has PCR and RT-PCR mastermixes for Covid-19 diagnostic kit development and is trying to ramp up manufacturing. Azooka’s kits are made with indigenous dyes.
“They are working on a diagnostic test kit (LAMP-CRISPR-LFD) that is inexpensive, accurate, and provides results rapidly — about 30 minutes — allowing for pointof-care use on multiple specimens at a time, without the need for technical expertise and high-end equipment such as RTPCR,” SID said. LAMP or Loopmediated isothermal amplification is a single-tube technique to amplify DNA.
Pathshodh, a startup that has already developed multiple hand-held diagnostic devices in the past, now has a called Anupath which is aimed at filling a gap in disease management — a solution as handy as a glucometer but which could do more than just read out blood glucose levels. Anupath’s paper strip tests cover, at one go, diabetes, anaemia and kidney disease. If somebody with Covid is hospitalised, these vitals are also very critical. Now, Pathshodh is adding a Covid-19 antibody test and an antigen test to the device; just like the others, these involve disposable paper strips coated with a proprietary sensing chemical which are inserted into the handset-like device and analysed using an electro-chemical signal, the firm said.
AI Health Highway
This startup, which launched its prescreening and triage tool for Covid-19 as early as in mid-March, was the first to categorise risk assessment into ‘red, orange and green’ or high, mild and low-risk zones. Claiming that more than a 1,000 users have benefitted from their screening and triage tool, the firm said: “Given that they use pin code plus sequential screening on days, it helps the public/ health authorities to monitor zones for passive surveillance based on clinical presentation.
Now that global studies have established that a significant number of carriers of Covid-19 are asymptomatic, MicroX’s solution is a sensitive method of detecting inflammation. Early and rapid detection of inflammation helps track potential carriers and slows the spread of the disease. Product development is currently in progress.
This startup has been working on a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. “The vaccine is expected to provide significant protection to healthcare workers and elderly people, as well as to those deemed ‘high risk’ due to a comorbid condition. The vaccine is expected to be ready for testing in six months,” SID said.
General Aeronautics & Shanmukha Innovations
TOI has already reported about these two firms. While General Aeronautics repurposed its farm drone to spray pesticides on farms, in a manner that would cover larger areas in shorter times with increased efficiency, Shanmukha Innovations has designed a mobile lab for RT-PCR tests.