Students of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Vikas Pandey, Pooja Singh, Saurabh Singh won the award for developing a prototype of Miniaturized Fluorescence adapter for Fluorescence Sputum Smear Microscopy using bright-field microscope. They carried their project work under guidance of Dr. Ravikrishnan Elangovan.
TB infection is one of the major healthcare problems in India. The bright-field sputum smear microscopy (SSM) is the most common method used for TB diagnosis in India, however SSM has poor sensitivity. Consequently, only 64% of total TB infected patients are being diagnosed and treated. Every single undiagnosed TB patient infects at least 10-15 healthy individuals, keeping the vicious disease cycle going. WHO has recommended LED-Fluorescence Microscopy with higher sensitivity for TB diagnosis in high TB burden countries like India. The adoption of LED-FM has been slow mainly due to high cost (approximately~2lakhs INR after subsidy), additional infrastructure, training and maintenance of new fluorescence microscope.
India has approximately 14000 RNTCP centers (each caters approximately 100,000 people), but only 2500 centers has LED-fluorescence microscopes. This diagnostic infrastructure gap between the actual requirement and availability is a major bottleneck. At IIT Delhi, We have developed a unique fluorescence microscopy technology, cTIRF: compact Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence”. The cTIRF converts a simple brightfield microscope to fluorescence microscope without any hassle of tedious illumination mechanism, optical filters, and additional lens installation. This 3D-printed module is highly compact (~approx size of calculator), robust, cost effective and allows rapid (lesser than 2mins) TB diagnosis without additional infrastructure, cost and training. While the sputum sample processing, smear preparation and auramine-O staining remains same as recommended by WHO. The clinical validation of cTIRF is running at 2 hospital sites. This affordable technology is a cost-effective way of upgrading the existing microscopes for fluorescence TB diagnosis. In alignment of Govt. of India mission to eradicate TB by 2025, the cTIRF can be a scalable solution for easy and rapid deployment across India.
The Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind awarded the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (BIRAC – GYTI) Award to Vikas Pandey, Pooja Singh, Saurabh Singh, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi at the GYTI 2018 Awards function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 19, 2018.