IITians develop AI-based detector for malaria, cervical cancer

Google vowed not to design or deploy AI for use in weapons, surveillance outside of international norms or in technology aimed at violating human rights

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi have developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based low-power electronic hardware system that can help in detecting malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal parasite and cervical cancer in a few milliseconds.

The research focusses on building a neuromorphic system which can be used for healthcare access in resource-constrained areas with limited access to human specialists.

“While several software AI models exist for healthcare and diagnostic related applications, need of the hour is to efficiently map these models on portable dedicated low-power, low-cost hardware to enable edge-AI systems accessible to all in low resource environment,” said Manan Suri, professor at the department of electrical engineering, IIT Delhi.

Suri, who is leading the team of researchers, said being both simple and versatile, microscopy is particularly well adapted to low-resource, high disease burden areas; even for diagnostic tasks. While newer technologies are available for diagnosis, the cost of specialised equipment may render it impractical in such places, he said.

“In contrast to alternatives such as rapid diagnostic tests, however, microscopy-based diagnosis does depend on the availability of skilled technicians, of which there is a critical shortage. As a result, diagnoses are often made on the basis of clinical signs and symptoms alone, which is error-prone and leads to higher mortality, drug resistance, and the economic burden of buying unnecessary drugs,” the professor said.

“There is, therefore, need for alternatives that can help in providing the access to quality diagnosis that is currently routinely unavailable,” he added.