IIT Delhi Student Invents Mobile Sized Device to Test Haemoglobin

A student of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, Ambar Srivastava, has developed a mobile phone-size haemoglobin metre dubbed the TrueHb Hemometer – the first case of an innovation from the institute’s biomedical engineering department actually getting “productized”.

The device, which has been validated by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for its efficacy, is expected to help identify and tackle anaemia effectively. India with very high prevalence of anaemia also sees a large number of maternal deaths from the condition.

The CBC counter is the gold standard for haemogram tests in labs. It could cost Rs 2-10 lakh, is at least twice the size of a personal computer and needs regular power supply.

While the price of the TrueHb meter has not been fixed as of now, it is expected to be cheaper than most other similar devices in the market, which cost well over Rs 25,000.

Paper-based colour cards that use a colour scale to provide a rough estimate of haemoglobin values are also used. Such cards give a range and not an exact value of the haemoglobin level.

TrueHb, on the other hand, works like a conventional glucometer and works with just a tiny drop of blood from a pinprick on the disposable strip. It not only reads the accurate level within 45 seconds, but also stores up to 1,000 such readings. It can be charged like a mobile phone and allows up to 300 tests per charge.

“It will be very useful on the field for health workers, blood banks, primary health centres, the school health scheme of the government, and all point of care use, including for use at home,” explained Srivastava.

“Currently, we don’t have the correct estimate of the true prevalence of anaemia in India. Once you have an accurate measure of the haemoglobin level, anaemia diagnosis can be made effectively and treatment can be decided accordingly. There are several analysers in the market but, to the best of my knowledge, none as portable as this. In AIIMS, we have checked the efficacy of the TrueHb in a limited number of blood samples in standardized lab condition and found very good accuracy,” said Dr Renu Saxena, head of the department of Haematology in AIIMS.

The device was developed with funding from the Technology Development Board of the Department of Science and Technology at IIT’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering, established in 1971 as a joint venture between IIT and AIIMS to develop healthcare technologies.

~ Rema Nagaranjan, TNN