Lakhs of TB-infected children will benefit from a lollipop and chewing gum-inspired child-friendly sample collection device under development

India Health Fund
Dec. 13, 2022, 9:53 p.m.

-- Nearly 1 – 1.15 lakh children in India get affected by TB every year. Thousands of cases go unmissed as the testing is not child friendly. Current sample collection methods are painful, time consuming and inconvenient.
-- First-of-its-kind sample collection device to be developed by 221B Biomedical Pvt. Ltd. with grant and support from India Health Fund, a Tata Trusts initiative.
-- The flavoured low-cost device will require children to simply chew and blow or cough for easy and safe sample collection of oral fluids.
-- The innovation will make testing simpler and will likely increase testing and treatment rates, lower mortality and infection transmission due to TB.

December 13, 2022, Mumbai: India Health Fund (IHF), a Tata Trusts initiative, today announced its funding and support for a first-of-its-kind lollipop- and chewing gum-inspired sputum collection device for testing tuberculosis (TB) among children. Being developed by 221B Biomedical Pvt. Ltd., and christened ‘Blow-Pop’, it will help address lakhs of under-, mis- and delayed diagnosed cases of TB among children. The unique child-friendly sample collection device is expected to be ready for roll-out over the next two years.

Every year, 1-1.151 lakh children get affected by TB in India. Of these, 96%2 of deaths, among paediatric TB patients, are due to a lack of bacteriologic confirmation and early treatment. These missed cases not only contribute to higher mortality but also increased transmission of infection in communities. Exacerbating this, are current sample collection methods, which are time-consuming, painful and inconvenient for children and often need the expertise of healthcare workers.

Addressing this unmet need and keeping children at the heart of the innovation, India Health Fund’s latest grant to 221B Biomedical will pave the way for development and clinical validation of 221B Biomedical’s simulated method. The innovation is a low-cost device that will improve the safety, efficacy, and ease of sputum collection for TB in children. Inspired from a lollipop, and chewing gum user experience, the conch-shaped device needs children to simply chew and blow or cough for easy sample collection of oral fluids. Moreover, owing to its simplicity, the tool will be ideal for low-resource settings, including primary healthcare setups. While this tool will be developed initially keeping children in mind, a similar product can be used among adults too, and its development and deployment will be explored.

“Today’s announcement brings fresh hope for thousands of children who are missing out on TB testing because sample collection is not child friendly,” said Madhav Joshi, CEO, India Health Fund. “Making the testing process simpler and pain-free will increase rates of testing and diagnosis, leading to fast-tracked treatment initiation and preventing unnecessary deaths in children. Moreover, it will also reduce expenditure for patients and health systems alike.”

He further added, “Accessibility and high impact potential is a key feature that is common to all innovations funded and supported by the India Health Fund because an innovation is only as powerful as it is accessible.”

“Innovating while keeping children at the center of our work is likely to bring smiles for lakhs of little ones and their caregivers. The power of this innovation lies not only in its affordability, safety, speed and convenience for children, but also in its compatibility and complimentary to existing diagnostic setups at minimal costs,” said Dr. Vivek Manoharan founder & CEO, 221B Biomedical Pvt. Ltd., India

1. ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives!’ – Press release by MoH&FW, Govt of India
2. The global burden of tuberculosis mortality in children: a mathematical modelling study – The Lancet Global Health.

About 221B Biomedical Pvt. Ltd:

221B Biomedical Private Limited (221B) aims to simplify medical diagnostics for easy and convenient home-based testing experience with its proprietary, scientific and innovative technologies. 221B aspires towards a diagnostics first approach, while proactively anticipating and preventing diseases in an effort towards progressing the UN sustainable development goal (SDGs) on health and well-being. 221B is an associate of Test At Home Private Limited, Singapore, an Antler portfolio company, supported by National University of Singapore and UNLEASH global innovation lab for SDGs. 221B is founded by a duo of a biomedical engineer scientist and a medical doctor: Dr. Vivek Manoharan (BEng, MS, PhD) & Dr. Terence Tan (MBBS, GDFM, GDOM).

About India Health Fund:

India Health Fund is a not-for-profit organization that was set up as a collaborative initiative of Tata Trusts and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

IHF’s mission is to help reduce preventable deaths from communicable diseases and other public health risks. IHF does this by de-risking the development of promising technology and science-led solutions that have the potential to make a significant difference in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these diseases. IHF collaborates with the public and private sectors to facilitate the development, adoption, and scaling of these solutions. IHF’s aim is to improve health outcomes, with a focus on primary care and in low resource settings. For more information, please visit

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About Tata Trusts:

Since inception in 1892, Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organisation, has played a pioneering role in bringing about an enduring difference in the lives of the communities it serves. Guided by the principles and the vision of proactive philanthropy of the Founder, Jamsetji Tata, the Trusts’ purpose is to catalyse development in the areas of health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihood, digital transformation, migration and urban habitat, social justice and inclusion, environment and energy, skill development, sports, and arts and culture. The Trusts’ programmes, achieved through direct implementation, partnerships and grant making, are marked by innovations relevant to the country. For more information, please visit

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Source: India Health Fund