January 24, 2021

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Indian scientists use Raman spectroscopy, AI to detect COVID-19

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru are working on the rapid identification of COVID-19 biomarkers in blood plasma using Raman spectroscopy and artificial intelligence (AI).

According to a news report, the research is being carried out in collaboration with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhopal, which will be providing patient samples and healthy controls.

Raman spectroscopy is a non-destructive chemical analysis technique that probes bond variations and is sensitive to any structural changes, providing a molecular fingerprint of the sample. As every disease is linked with a certain change in biochemistry, the test aims to identify the disease with this approach, the report explained.

The scientists noted that with the help of AI and deep learning, the process of detecting the COVID-19 virus will be automated and rapid, eliminating the requirement of the extraction procedure. “It is of critical importance to develop new technologies that can rapidly detect COVID-19 and perform mass testing, and at the same are cost-effective. In this regard, Raman spectroscopy holds significant promise,” the principal investigator of the project, Professor Dipankar Nandi, stated.

“Our proposal is directed at identifying COVID-19 biomarkers in the blood plasma of infected patients. The only requirement is a spectrometer and the patient samples. Spectra collected from infected COVID-19 patients and healthy controls will be used for training and building robust classification models.”

Meanwhile, a Delhi-based startup company, Thalamus Irwine, has announced its AI and IoT-based solution to complete a Seroprevalence survey with ten million samples of COVID-19 cases within a week, with over 12,000 computation nodes. As per reports, it has partnered with state-run ITI to host its data and has a proof-of-concept with the public sector firm.

The AI-based system can analyse samples within a few microseconds. The company will connect its platform, Garuda, with the partner device that examines data in real-time. Seroprevalence (or sero) studies are based on the analysis of antibodies collected through blood sample collections. Data can be extrapolated over a large population to help understand the movement of the virus across the country.

The antibodies test shows if a person is infected with the virus or had been infected in the past. It can help detect the exposure of COVID-19 in asymptomatic people as well. This survey can be used for prioritising vaccine distribution as well.

The company has partnered with a Korean biotechnology firm for hardware that can be deployed for conducting the test using blood samples. The startup converted the technology into an IoT device and linked it back to the AI platform for the analysis of data collected within a few microseconds.

ITI claims Thalamus Irwine to be the world’s fastest COVID-19 sero survey. The data collected by Thalamus Irwine will be hosted on ITI data centres. “We are pleased to become [the] Official Data Infrastructure Partner of Garuda because when we combine Garuda’s IoT and AI backend along with our state-of-the-art data centre facilities, what we have at our hand is one of the world’s fastest COVID-19 sero survey platforms,” ITI Chairman and Managing Director, R.M. Agrawal, said.

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