We are all susceptible to the virus that causes diarrhea, the rotavirus, but it predominately effects young children and babies. Diarrhea is one of the worst symptomatic conditions one can have as it rapidly drains the body of fluids. Thankfully, there are a number of treatments that can cure this condition. But before it can be treated, a medical professional must first diagnosis a patient. This essential step is sometimes the first hurdle that low-income families must overcome to treat their child’s illness.
That’s where Achira comes in. Achira is a lab based in Bangalore, India, that has developed an innovative method for detecting diarrhea in infants. The Fabric Chip is a thin strip that is coated with rotavirus antibodies. It has been engineered so that when it comes into contact with the rotavirus, it responds by turning pink. If I haven’t done enough to bury the lead, Achira has been developing the strip to be placed in diapers, allowing parents to easily test their children for rotavirus. They are working on a technique that entails weaving the strip into silk to make reactive clothing for infants. At the moment the product is still in a test phase to ensure the strip works.
While the Fabric Chip doesn’t prevent or even treat rotavirus, it is potentially a powerful tool in the struggle against infant mortality. With hundreds of thousands of people dying from this treatable disease every year, a new tool in combating its spread and devastation is exactly what is needed. By applying the tech directly into diapers, it allows parents to easily understand if their child needs treatment. If developed further, Achira may be able to develop a list of ailments that their strip can detect. A veritable rainbow of illnesses show themselves in stool. This unique opportunity also present diaper manufacturers with a perfect CSR initiative. The promotional material writes itself!
If this invention proves to make an impact in diarrhea treatment, it will be interesting to see what other “reactive” clothing is developed. But what do you think: how else might clothing be used to detect ailments and sicknesses? What other sicknesses show themselves in our stool and bodily fluids?
Achira has recently received support from Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Canadian Government, to further develop their technology and create a marketable prototype. To find out more about the Fabric Chip, check out Achira’s website.