Light Infant-ry: He’s keeping jaundice away

Vivek Kopparthi’s device NeoLight is helping cure infants from jaundice without too much hassle, finds Blessy Mathew Prasad

Published: 30th January 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2017 03:35 AM   |  A+A-

NeoLight, the device that uses the resonant power of light to cure jaundice in infants at work

Express News Service

What good would it do to have so much ability to make an impact but not make use of it? That’s what drove Vivek Kopparthi, a 27-year-old entrepreneur from Chennai, to invent NeoLight, a device that uses the resonant power of light to treat jaundice in infants. Vivek, who has been recently listed in the 2017 Forbes list of super achievers, shares more details about the product.

How and when did you come up with the idea for NeoLight?
NeoLight was founded when my co-founders and I were at Arizona State University. Sivakumar, a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer had mentioned an incident where he saw a stack of naked babies being treated for jaundice in a hazardous manner. He saw a problem and I saw the opportunity to make an impact. We rallied and decided to go all-in to get this idea up and running.
How does the product work? What is the technology behind it?
The Sunlife device treats jaundice by harnessing the resonant power of light between the 450-480nm wavelength spectrum. It resonates tangentially with the bilirubin neurotoxin found in infant blood and breaks it down into an excretable fluid. This has been the traditional treatment for jaundice for decades but we have engineered a technology that enables the fastest and the safest treatment possible for the infant.
How and why is it relevant for the medical industry today?
It costs a fraction of the existing price and also enables treatment in rural and remote areas as it runs on solar/battery power. NeoLight phototherapy quickly decreases the total bilirubin to safe levels, minimising the risk of bilirubin neurotoxicity
Why does the neonatal segment require more innovative therapies?
The newborn care market primarily requires empathy-driven innovation. For example, jaundice is a condition that can be easily treated, but over 5.9 million infants every year go without treatment. This is because no big med-tech manufacturer empathises with the patients, the geography, and the affordability of the market. They use a radical problem-solution, functionality design approach where they only focus on building a device that ‘can’ treat jaundice but do not care about the reach, impact, durability, and affordability of the market that they cater to.
How advanced is neonatal care in India when compared to other countries? Is it the same across Asia at the moment?
India is far behind the US and Europe but ahead of most of the hyper-developing countries. We need more schemes and grants to empower and enable cost-effective solutions to come into the market. For example, GE, a med-tech leader in the US, has opened a developing country-focussed facility in Bengaluru. We need more of these and hope that the Indian giants like Tata, Reliance and Mahindra groups consider entering into the med-tech space.
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