The vision of HTIC is to develop technologies that create, impact and drive innovation in healthcare and be a leader known for technical excellence and collaborative spirit. “Twin health” is one such incubation based on AI technology that is about reversal of diabetes in a very different way. It is not about putting more medicines. It is more about listening to the body.
August 18th 2022
Shahid Akhter, Editor, ETHealthworld, spoke to Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, President, IIT Madras Research Park to find out about healthcare technologies that are being developed for commercialization, at Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC).
We have a very interesting organization called Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre. The focus is in the area of healthcare where you can develop technology which can be commercialized?
Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC), a multi-disciplinary R&D centre, is a joint initiative of Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, that brings together technologists, engineers, doctors and healthcare professionals, industry and government to develop healthcare technologies for the country. The vision of HTIC is to develop technologies that create, impact and drive innovation in healthcare and be a leader known for technical excellence and collaborative spirit.
It has an associated incubator called Med tech incubator (MTI), and a large number of young people along with engineers and doctors are getting together to take technology to help people get better health.
The MedTech Incubator’s prime focus is to build a community of healthcare entrepreneurs who can deliver innovative, affordable and valuable Medtech solutions and products for the Indian society. The incubator provides wide-ranging support to start-ups and entrepreneurs working at the intersection of healthcare and technology. MTI also extends its support by providing a stimulating platform for healthcare enthusiasts to get their hands working on premature ideas.
For example, one of the companies that we incubated at IIT Madras incubation cell in this place is “MediBuddy”. We had incubated about 8 to 9 years back and has now become a very large company. In fact, we invested only ₹4000 in that, and recently the founders came back and gave us an exit for those shares at 14 crore rupees.
Incubating Twin Health
Well, there is another company that we are working with, “Twin health”. This company is about reversal of diabetes and the way they go about doing it is very different. It is not about putting more medicines and things like that. It is more about listening to the body.
We use sensors to listen to the body and artificial intelligence to create a body twin such that as I eat, sleep, move around, the sensors pick up the signals from my body and my body twin is simulated in computers using artificial intelligence.
So, everything that is happening in my body is also happening in that body Twin. And the biggest idea is that once you learn to do that, you really don’t need medicines for cure. What you need is some healthy diet; it figures out what food is good for me, what food is not good for me at present, and advises me to eat only good food.
When you walk, what happens? When you exercise, what happens? What kind of exercise is good for you? Your breathing, you are sleeping but what is good for you, and what is not good for you?
By just advising me and using more like nature care, it enables one to completely reverse diabetes. Initially when I heard about it, I didn’t believe it, but since then I have put a large number of people that I know, including myself in the program.
I don’t have diabetes, but I had a little bit of high blood pressure and what I found is an immense difference. It immediately starts curing you. It’s a very different kind of company, a very different kind of medicine system, which is going to become the dominant medicine system in future. Healthcare by nature’s cure, by listening to the body and doing the right action of food, exercise and sleep. That’s what we need. Twin Health is very much part of this whole ecosystem.
R&D: Developing technology for commercialization
For years, R&D institutions have largely pursued research and development to publish papers. The publication of papers was the key aspect. It is only in recent years that the focus has shifted. Research and development should result in commercialization so that the products we use in India are actually the ones that we develop in India, and that is a direction that we are working on.
IIT Madras Research Park is focused in that direction. It’s a lot of hard work. I think it’s not something that you can replicate overnight. You really need to understand that R&D for commercialization has not happened in the country since independence.
Only in the last 12 to 15 years have we been moving in that direction. Of course, we are the first ones to do it. There are many others who will do it because they are capable people, but it takes time, and we are helping other institutions to move in this direction, and hopefully we will accelerate the whole move. That is what will make India stand up.
Author: Shahid Akhter
August 18th, 2022
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