Mohali girl, old tape recorder, intervertebral disk — and an award of Rs 10 lakh
What can be the link between an old tape recorder and the surgical procedure for relieving your lower back pain? Well, Sannidhi Jhala, a Mohali-based girl, is the link between the two, who in collaboration with Maumita Bhattacharjee from IIT, Delhi, has worked on a disc replacement substitute made of silk for an intervertebral disc in the spine.
Good news does not end here. This product made of silk is especially designed for those who cannot afford to spend around Rs 2-3 lakh to get an artificial disc. It would only cost Rs 30,000 and would remain in the intervertebral column till 10-12 years.
The innovators designed the disc by using the rotating motor called 'rotating assembly' of an old broken tape recorder and developed a custom-made aligned silk fibrous scaffold. The long silk thread was winded over the rotating assembly to maintain the angle of the silk mounted on it. After the silk hydrogel formed a shape of the disc, the rotating assembly was removed and then the same disc was mixed with human cells and other chemicals up to six weeks. This criss-cross orientation of the silk fibres was observed to be supporting an alignment of cells to help withstand the stresses during the compression of the intervertebral disc.
Shortlisted among 250 entries from across the country and beating 23 other teams of students from India's premier science and technology institutes and B-schools, an all girls' team of Sannidhi Jhala, a student of Indian School of Business, Mohali campus, and Maumita Bhattacharjee from IIT, Delhi, have emerged as the winners for the first season of a science and technology competition initiated by a French company, Dupont. Both the girls have been awarded Rs 10 lakh along with a paid visit to the global Dupont headquarters and the Experimental Station based in Wilmington, Delaware, USA.
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