IIT researchers develop low-cost compact disc for blood test

As per the researchers, a normal CBC test costs about Rs. 200 but this innovation will help bring down the cost of the test to nearly Rs. 10.

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Last Updated on January 27, 2020 by The Health Master

Kharagpur: Compact Discs may be outdated for our laptops but IIT Kharagpur researchers are have redefined the use of these devices for low-cost medical diagnosis in rural areas.

Researchers from IIT Kharagpur led by Professor Suman Chakraborty from the Department of Mechanical Engineering have recently innovated a simple low-cost motorized spinning disc based kit to perform Complete Blood Count (CBC).

“We have proposed a unique low-cost kit comprising a motorized device as a blood cell counting platform,” said Dr. Chakraborty.

CBC are a collection of the most commonly required blood tests, which can detect a wide range of diseases, ranging from a common fever to cancer.

It is the basic blood test that any doctor runs to make a diagnosis.

Currently, these tests cost around Rs. 200 due to the requirement of sophisticated instruments and trained medical professionals, which makes it expensive for the underprivileged population.

“The device is a simple spinning disc running on a small motor which is capable of performing the test whereby the parameters such as haematocrit (packed volume of red blood cells), haemoglobin, red blood cell (RBC), white blood cell (WBC), and platelet counts are estimated with an accuracy higher than 95 % as compared to an automated haematology analyser,” Dr. Chakraborty added.

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How was this unique innovation developed?

Ph.D students Rahul Agarwal and Devdeep Mukherjee, and Post Doctoral Fellows Arnab Sarkar and Arka Bhowmik were a part of the research team for this project, which was also mentioned in Biosensors and Bioelectrics, which is a notable journal from Elsevier.

While explaining the mechanism behind this innovation, Ph.D students Rahul Agarwal and Devdeep Mukherjee said, “The method essentially exploits the difference in densities of cells for separation in a rotating disc due to centrifugal force and implements label-free imaging method for counting the separated cells within the spinning disc.”

This method is not only cost efficient but also biodegradable, as per the researchers.

According to Post Doctoral Fellows Arnab Sarkar and Arka Bhowmik, the design and techniques involved in the process are fairly simple which makes the device portable and easy to use.

It also eliminates the need for downstream processing of the separated blood.

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CBC test cost brought down drastically

As per the researchers, a normal CBC test costs about Rs. 200 but this innovation will help bring down the cost of the test to nearly Rs. 10.

Director V K Tivari feels that such an innovation of medical device might bring a paradigm shift in providing diagnostic services to the underserved rural population at large.

He said, “The upcoming superspecialty hospital of IIT Kharagpur would operate in a hub and spoke model, and would use several of such devices to ensure improved reach of telemedicine and mobile healthcare to the last man of the society.”

Dr. Chakraborty remarked that the CBC kit will be a key product which could be licensed and made market ready by MSMEs.

“The Common Research & Technology Development Hub on Technologies for Affordable Healthcare supported by the Government of India’s DSIR aims to support growth & development of precision manufacturing of innovative technologies through MSMEs to reduce India’s massive import in healthcare technologies and their affordability and accessibility,” he added.

Chakraborty also confirmed that more such healthcare technology commercialization is in the process.