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India: Indigenous Healthcare Technology

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The Technology Development Board (TDB) has entered into a partnership with a private company to commercialise its Digitally Enabled Advanced Universal ICU Ventilators. The board has committed IN₹ 39.4 million (US$ 475,688) out of the total project cost of IN₹ 78.9 million (US$ 952,584).

The company, which was incubated at the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur), developed the entire technology indigenously. It filed multiple patents for each component of the ventilator. The company’s entry-level ventilator model emerged as a vital tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was deployed in various hospitals throughout India, where it became instrumental in saving lives.

Building on this success, the company is now launching its smart ventilator. The device facilitates seamless cloud connectivity through GSM, Wi-Fi, and LAN, allowing doctors and intensive care experts to oversee and monitor patient data through the company’s digital platform from remote locations. Additionally, it enables hospitals to digitise their ICU data and workflows. This project is in line with the government’s endeavour to foster a self-reliant medical devices sector in India.

Speaking on the occasion, officials from the company expressed that the backing and guidance from TDB would drive the company’s mission to establish technological self-reliance throughout India’s healthcare domain. They underscored that the company’s initiatives would play a substantial role in furthering the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) initiatives, establishing a model for innovation and self-sufficiency in the realm of medical technology.

The Secretary of TDB said that the company’s strides in cutting-edge medical technology underscore India’s capabilities in creating sophisticated solutions tailored to the requirements of India’s domestic healthcare establishments. Bringing Digitally Enabled Advanced Universal ICU Ventilators to the market is expected to transform the landscape of the critical care industry.

In a country where over 85% of medical devices are imported, the impetus to create domestically originated products has gained unprecedented importance. The Indian government, through its “Make in India” campaign and a renewed emphasis on digital advancement spanning various domains, including healthcare, is fostering a strong framework for nurturing indigenous innovations.

In May, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru developed a new smart gel-based sheet produced through three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. It can self-roll into a tube shape during surgical procedures to form a nerve conduit. Its implementation could help reduce the complexity of surgeries and aid the rapid healing of nerve injuries.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the 3D printing process involves creating a virtual model of the part using design software, and the part is then fabricated using a 3D printer by layer-upon-layer deposition of the material. The team at IISc engineered a bi-layered gel sheet by 3D printing in pre-defined patterns from two gels. The gel formulations were selected to have different swelling properties. When the dried gel sheet was immersed in water, it quickly swelled and curved into a tube shape. The folding behaviour and final shape of the gel could be precisely programmed to generate tubes of specific dimensions, which could be predicted by computational modelling. Additionally, thin nanometer-scale fibres were applied to the gel sheets to enable cells in the body to attach to them.

To test the technology, the 4D-printed conduits were used to repair a 2 mm gap in the sciatic nerve of rats. The shape-morphing sheets were placed underneath the damaged section of the nerve and then stimulated to wrap around the defect site to form a conduit around the nerve without the need for sutures. The nerve endings were able to grow through the implanted conduit, leading to a significant improvement in nerve regeneration within 45 days of using the 4D-printed nerve conduits.


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