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New TB detection simple, cheap & fast

New TB detection simple, cheap & fast
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Highlights

Have you ever thought of detecting whether you have Tuberculosis (TB) just by sitting at your home? A city-based start-up named ‘Docturnal’ helps you to detect the disease hassle-free, accessible, and affordable to the last mile.

Hyderabad: Have you ever thought of detecting whether you have Tuberculosis (TB) just by sitting at your home? A city-based start-up named 'Docturnal' helps you to detect the disease hassle-free, accessible, and affordable to the last mile.

Docturnal was started in 2016 by Rahul Pathri. With one-third of the world's population infected with tuberculosis (TB), the disease is a leading cause of death. Alarming statistics suggest that the disease claims one life per minute in India, making it the TB capital of the world.

Speaking to THI, Rahul Pathri, the founder and CEO of 'Docturnal,' said "I had a personal experience with TB and my penchant for acoustics is what led me to envision a solution that was simple, effective and accessible and affordable to the last mile. Docturnal develops a point of care, non-invasive screening/detection solutions for lung-based ailments with aural components, leveraging Artificial intelligence (AI). Our flagship product 'TimBre' is an ideal active case finding tool for Pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB), accessible and affordable to the last mile."

"A delayed diagnosis spreads the disease and often newer drug resistant strains are passed. The current standard diagnostics are expensive, cumbersome, subjective, and often misleading (false positives/negatives), thereby increasing the burden," adds Rahul.

TimBre

It is a screening app, where the sound of cough of an individual is recorded (using a microphone array) by a medical practitioner or a healthcare worker along with their demographic and clinical variables. The data collected is then processed in real time, leveraging machine/deep learning to detect if the cough is TB positive or negative.

This is also followed by a call to action, which includes connecting positively screened patients with Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP), pulmonologists, and other partner diagnostic centers. It is followed by providing a customized app experience during prognosis that often includes education around drug adherence and appropriate diet (futuristic).

Rahul said, "The response has been very encouraging, while we are yet to go commercial; we have already screened over 7000 subjects. We have piloted in over 30 hospitals in the state of Telangana. We are in the final leg of collaborating with a state government to deploy the product statewide."

When asked about their biggest learning through these projects, Rahul said, "In rural communities, we have seen an increasing number of people who have opened up about TB experienced by their parents or other family members. The time is ripe to exploit the technological nature of the current solution. Since data is our primary input, obtaining cough recordings puts our team at high risk given the infectious nature of the condition, even though we adhere to precautionary protocols."

"Given the infectious nature of the disease, we need to build protocols that are fool-proof and will not burden further contagiousness in a mass screening scenario," he adds.

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