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Updated: July 4, 2014 03:27 IST

Scientists: three life-saving chips are ready for patient trials

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A chip that helps assess build-up of intra-cranial fluid in accident and trauma cases. — File Photo
A chip that helps assess build-up of intra-cranial fluid in accident and trauma cases. — File Photo

One will speed up treatment of urinary tract infection caused by brackish water sources

At least three small smart chips that have emerged out of a national programme are ready to enter patient trials as potential cost- and life-savers, scientists involved in the programme said on Thursday.

According to V.K. Aatre, who chairs the National Programme on Micro and Smart Systems (NPMASS), the medical and other chips have been developed by involving universities, IITs and domestic industry for aeronautical, automotive uses. Dr. Aatre is a former Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) chief and ex-scientific adviser to the Defence Minister.

"Three of the medical chips have been cleared for multi-centric trials. We have [approached] ethics committees of hospitals and hope to start trials by the end of the year," Dr. Aatre said while announcing a conference on smart structures starting on July 8.

The six-year, Rs. 270-crore NPMASS includes the DRDO, Department of Science & Technology, Department of Space. It is due to close by the end of this year. Some of the partners in the programme are the Society for Biomedical Technology under defence lab DEBEL, Society for Integrated Circuit Technology and Applied Research (SITAR), both in Bangalore; TCS, Tech Mahindra, Pricol, IITs, Indian Institute of Science, 65 micro electronic mechanical systems (MEMS) design centres started in colleges and a few hospitals.

One of the medical chips that is awaiting trials helps to speed up treatment of urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by brackish water sources, like in Rajasthan.

In such cases, doctors must try out seven antibiotics one after the other over four weeks before prescribing the right medicine. However, using a millimetre-sized chip, they can check all the seven antibiotics at once and start the treatment in about two hours.

Another MEMS is a ‘cardio chip’ that can quickly tell the severity of a heart attack. It measures the rate of increase of two blood proteins that rise during an attack and helps doctors to detect an emergency.

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, asked Dr. Aatre’s team to develop a low-cost sensor to assess build-up of an intra-cranial fluid in accident and trauma cases. The imported chips cost over Rs. three lakh each.

"The technology is already there. What we aim to produce may cost around Rs. 50,000 each," Dr. Aatre told The Hindu.

Aircraft health

A swipe of a small chip against a plane’s body can tell if the aircraft is healthy for the next flight or needs service. The no-contact health monitoring device can significantly lower inspection cost, said S. Gopalakrishnan, professor of aerospace engineering at the Indian Institute of Science.

Conference

MEMS and nano technology in medicine, farming, consumer electronics, cars and aerospace are also the theme of the international conference on smart materials, structures and systems ISSS 2014, hosted by IISc and its Institute of Smart Structures & Systems.

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