Startup@IITD: Addressing healthcare challenges prevalent in developing nations

Valetude Primus Healthcare (VPH), a technology spinoff from IIT Delhi, was founded in 2015 to address the healthcare challenges prevalent in developing nations using innovative technologies made in India. VPH was founded by Saurabh Singh, Vikas Pandey and Ravikrishnan Elangovan, faculty in Department of Biochemical Engg. In an interview with Dr Vanita Srivastava, co-founders of the company, Saurbah Singh and Vikas Pandey talk about the products and the future goals. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Please give a brief about what the company is offering.

 

VPH offers iMC2(immuno-magnetic cell capture) device for rapid and early stage diagnosis of typhoid, within 6 hours, as compared to the gold standard blood culture test which takes up to 48-72 hours. The iMC2 device can be deployed at the resource poor settings (CHCs & PHCs), in contrast to the culture test which is available only in tertiary healthcare centers. This test is highly affordable as compared to the existing diagnostic solutions for typhoid. The iMC2 is a platform technology that is used for detecting other infections such as tuberculosis, and gastro-enteritis.

 

Anything else that the company offers?

 

Another platform technology offered by VPH is SiMED (spot immuno-magnetic enrichment device). This state-of-art technology is used for detection of infectious diseases, rare cell, and sepsis within an hour while gold standards may vary from 48-72hours for the same. This technology can be deployed across the intensive care units (ICUs) where rapid diagnostics is essential for quick and targeted decision for saving a patient’s life. This technology is not only essential for the developing nations but is also a much needed solution for the industrialized economies as well.

VPH has also developed a novel evanescent wave-based illumination platform technology called the cTIRF (compact Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Excitation Device) which is being used for total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Diagnostic services for tuberculosis (TB) in India are provided through a network of more than 14,000 microscopy centers, where bright-field microscopes are used. The cTIRF device, with these conventional binocular microscopes (BM), can be used for highly sensitive fluorescence detection of TB. The cTIRF can be used with any bright-field microscope to convert it to a fluorescence microscope.

 

What is the future goal of the company?

 

VPH’s goal is to provide quality healthcare solutions at an affordable price irrespective of a person’s socio-economic status, and empower the physicians to provide targeted therapy. In India, almost 30% of the annual deaths are caused by infectious diseases such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Typhoid and Gastro enteritis due to poor healthcare and sanitation facilities. The rising threat of anti-microbial resistance (AMR), through the rampant misuse of antibiotics due to prevalent empirical treatment methods, has become an immediate global challenge. Using our products, medical practitioners will be able to combat the challenge of infectious diseases and anti-microbial resistance. Our venture is blessed to have Dr. Seyed E. Hasnain (Vice Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard University) in our board. We are also delighted to have eminent scientists Dr. Shalini Gupta, Dr. Vivekanandan Perumal and Dr. Paul Salins (Director, MSCC, NH) as our scientific advisors.

 

The Startup Team: Saurabh Singh graduated from IIT Delhi in 2011 (MSR, Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology) and worked in the financial, biotechnology sector for few years. Vikas Pandey also graduated from IIT Delhi in 2011 (B.Tech and M.Tech, dual degree in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology) and worked as a consultant in management consulting firm. They decided to start their own venture based on novel technologies. Vikas Pandey and Saurabh Singh are pursuing doctoral research at IIT Delhi and are being mentored by Dr. Ravikrishnan Elangovan (Assitant Professor, Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, IIT Delhi) Dr. Shalini Gupta (Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Delhi) and Dr. Vivekanandan Perumal (Associate Professor, Kusuma School of Biological Sciences, IIT Delhi).

Co-founders of VPH: (L-R) Saurabh Singh, Dr. Ravikrishnan Elangovan, Vikas Pandey