Make in India at work: Tata launches India-made portable MRI scanner to take diagnosis to remote villages

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New Delhi | Published: June 8, 2018 6:11:50 PM

Tata group’s philanthropic vehicle Tata Trusts has launched a portable India-made MRI scanner which, it claims, could be helpful in taking healthcare diagnostic services to far flung villages where such services are otherwise not available.

The portable MRI machine (Photo: twitter.com/ tatatrusts)

Tata group’s philanthropic vehicle Tata Trusts has launched a portable India-made MRI scanner which, it claims, could be helpful in taking healthcare diagnostic services to far flung villages where such services are otherwise not available. The portable MRI scanner is developed by VoxelGrids, a Bengaluru based Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology startup supported by Tata Trusts’ Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE).

The lightweight MRI scanner is the first of its kind in India, VoxelGrids said, adding that it can be mounted on a truck and transported to the remotest villages, where it can be switched on again at any primary health centre to perform MRI scans on the patient’s body. Tata Trusts said in a tweet that the new MRI scanner will cut the cost of scanning by as much as 50%.

This whole-body MRI scanner which consumes 1.5 Tesla of electricity, is three to four times faster than other MRI machines, said Tata Truts in a press release. According to the statement, this machine will reduce the cost of MRI significantly, and enable exceptional acceleration of the scans. 2D scans can be accelerated by factors of 6-12 while 3D scans can be accelerated by factors of 18 or more. MRI usually produces exquisite tissue contrast, that X-ray and CT scan can not.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship require creativity, hard work, and endurance to succeed. I am pleased that the MRI project team has demonstrated this,” said Ratan Tata, Chairman of The Tata Trusts. “It also requires an ecosystem to ensure that the most talented innovators are encouraged to take entrepreneurial risks and create positive social, economic and environmental impact,” Ratan Tata added.

The present-day MRI scanners are expensive and heavy, and since the speed of scanning is not much it becomes unaffordable, expensive and inaccessible to many people. Moreover, these MRI machines have limited ability to image moving organs like the human heart, which results in failure to diagnose heart diseases. This MRI scanner addresses these limitations, said VoxelGrids.

This project of VoxelGrids and FISE, also known as Social Alpha, won the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) award in 2017, while it was still getting developed. Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences of Bengaluru is the clinical partner of this initiative, where the first system has already been installed.

Tata Trusts and its subsidiary Social Alpha, which is also supported by the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India, promote government and philanthropic organisations as well as start-ups, which want to facilitate a large-scale sustainable development, by providing them with business ideas and investment support.

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