Nearly 1.7 million die of tuberculosis each year, and one-third of that number is from India alone. Reason? The infectious disease takes too long to be detected in many cases and in most, at least four weeks. And treating this affliction takes even longer — antibiotics over period of six to nine months. To make things worse, certain drugs turn out to be ineffective to treat the particular patient, and the doctors have to restart the whole process all over again! That’s where start-up Aarogya.AI comes in.
The Bengaluru-based company has developed a time and cost-effective test for the drug-resistant disease, and now one can get a report in just five hours. They also come with lower rates at Rs.9,000-12,000, of which, the founders earn Rs.2,000 on an average. The charge is much more affordable against industry average of up to Rs.20,000.
“So far, these tests have been through capital-intensive heavy machines requiring specific experts. Such luxury can only be found in big cities,” says Praapti Jayaswal, co-founder and CEO of the company. She adds that when it comes to certain regions in the hinterland, patients have to visit a primary healthcare centre to submit their sputum sample. By the time the samples reach a bigger hospital in the closest cities, 20-25% of these become unfit for testing.
Jayaswal is currently testing her SaaS (software as a service) product at major diagnostic labs across cities. The test can also precisely mention the drugs and conclude if they would work on the patient. The aim is to make this test available at the most remote place at affordable prices. To achieve this, Jayaswal has approached the Central TB Division of the Health Ministry and they strongly hope to garner government support to scale up. They have already procured the data and built partnerships with Genotypic and CCAMP in Bengaluru, Lifeline Laboratories, Indian Spinal injuries Centre and Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi; and Foundation of Medical Research, IQVIA in Mumbai.
Within three months of starting the company, the start-up has also already roped in Dr Lal Pathlabs as a client, and is well-funded by UK-based Entrepreneur First. The founders are targeting revenue of Rs.28 million in FY20. With a PhD in tuberculosis research from Translational Health Science and Technology Institute and a 12-year experience in medical research, Jayaswal is on her mission to ‘change the world’ along with her co-founder, Avlokita Tiwari. And they aren’t just stopping here, Aarogya.AI will also be developing tests for other anti-microbial diseases such as urinary tract infection and cholera in the next phase of growth for the company.