Updated on 14 June 2012
The price of the device will be roughly one-fifth of the cost of a regular PCR machine
Innovation comes in all sizes. Bigtec's mini PCR, TrueLab, is the perfect example for that. TrueLab is a point-of-care, hand-held, real time quantitative mini PCR, that is battery operated. This device that can easily be lifted in one hand detects the disease organism by a polymerase chain reaction carried out on a chip that is designed using MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) technology and is specific to each disease.
Started in 2000, Bigtec Labs develops diagnostics based on sensing technologies. The company says it will roll out the TrueLab this year and begin by focusing on diseases such as Malaria and Hepatitis B. They have also developed chips for other diseases, such as H1N1, with the support of the Indian Council of Medical Research. If all falls into place this year, a device such as this would have a huge impact on the diagnostic environment in India.
The main priority in designing diagnoctics, the management explains, has been keeping the technology as accessible as possible. With Truelab, they have not only reduced the dependance on infrastructure to a minimum but also made it battery-operated to ensure its easy use without any dependance on electricity.
Simple to operate, its design is such that a primary healthcare worker can easily use it during field visits. The patient sample is fed onto the chip that is entered into the device. The results are obtained in the form of a simple readout on the screen of the instrument and can be connected to a printer as well. The instrument is also bluetooth enabled.
An important differentiating factor with TrueLab is the fact that unlike conventional PCRs only one sample at a time can be processed. This has been done on purpose, Mr Chandrashekhar Nair, director, Bigtec Labs, insists. "What usually happens in a lab is that the technician waits till a required number of samples are collected before carrying out the PCR. Due to this, there is usually a delay of many hours or even more in carrying out the test. In this light, we focused on developing the product in such a way that each individual would get his/her results in about an hour," he says.