Australia’s innovative health collaboration with India

Health Care Sector

3 April 2017

The Indian Government is actively looking for innovative solutions and service providers to help build the health infrastructure needed for the 21st century.

Building on decades of collaboration in India’s health sector, Australia is expanding professional exchanges, research and development, skills training, and commercial engagementto integrate innovation and technology into both nations’ healthcare system.

New drugs to help fight the diabetes pandemic

With support from the Australia India Research Fund, Professor Matthew Cooper and his team at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, are working withthe Indian Institute of Chemical Technology to identify potential new therapies for type 2 diabetes.

Together they have been synthesising new molecules that can block a key driver of immune cell inflammation, called the ‘inflammasome’. Inflammasomes are protein complexes in our immune system that triggerthe release of molecules that exacerbate inflammation, leading to deposits of toxic ‘amyloid’ (protein fragments) in the pancreas. The two teams are working on a series of early stage molecules which can potentially stop this inflammatory process in immune cells.

They also hope to test the effect of ‘tracer’ molecules in type 2 diabetes models to see if they can halt the death of insulin- producing cells and ultimately stop the progression of diabetes.

Their aim is to develop a suite of these ‘tracer’ moleculeswhich could be used to visualise inflammation in the body in real time and to better identify the effect of inflammation in the pancreas.

Better detection of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is one of the top ten causes of death globally. More than two billion people worldwide are infected with the highly contagious bacteria that causes TB.

Accurate diagnosis is critical to controlling TB but the current diagnostic tests are expensive, slow and rely on access to centralised laboratories.

In India alone, the World Health Organisation estimates that in 2014 up to 25 per cent of TB cases went undiagnosed and untreated.

The development of simple, cheap and portable diagnostic tests would improve detection rates and could help to break the transmission cycle of the disease.

A team at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, led by Dr Scott Martin, has been working to develop a portable point of care diagnostic tool to detect TB from urine samples without the need for laboratory analysis. With support from AISRF, the CSIRO has teamed up with India’s Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh to tackle the issue.

CSIRO sends its sensors to India’s Institute of Microbial Technology, who use them to analyse infected and healthy samples from their collection. The institute then sends the test result data back to CSIRO to optimise the device.

While it is early days, preliminary results are promising. They suggest that, with optimisation, the sensors could soon be reliably diagnosing TB.

CSIRO has also been working with Axxin, an Australian biomedical company, to design and produce a portable device to house the chemiresistor sensors for use in the field.

These devices are relatively cheap and should allow the technology, once perfected, to be deployed for point of care TB diagnosis in resource-limited countries to control and prevent TB in India and the region.

For more information on the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, visit www.science.gov.au/aisrf

The digital effect

Digital’s influence on broader consumer spending is significant and growing rapidly in India. The internet and mobile phone usage is an increasingly pervasive factor in India’s commerce. In the past three years, the number of online buyers has increased sevenfold to 90 million. Continued growth in internet penetration and rising e-commerce adoption will drive further growth in the number of online buyers. By 2020, the size of the Indian online retail market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 50 per cent and reach US$55b with an estimated 175 million online shoppers. It is primed to become one of the largest online retail markets in the world. Austrade’s Indian E-commerce Ecosystem Report is a valuable tool for exporters looking to understand ecommerce opportunities in India.

Mobile Subscribers (as of March 2016):

  • Airtel India – 251m
  • Vodafone India – 197m
  • Idea Cellular – 175m
  • Reliance Communications – 102m
  • Aircel – 87m
  • BSNL – 86m
  • Tata Docomo – 60m
  • Telenor India – 52m
Last Updated: 3 April 2017
White box whith a screen and a remote
CSIRO’s point of care TB diagnostic tool.