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This tech startup aims an 80pc reduction in diseases caused by smoking

Amoolya Rajappa
4th Jan 2018
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Lambda Televentures has acquired patent of a unique cigarette filter technology that traps harmful cancer-causing compounds.

Image: Shutterstock.

India could soon qualify among the top countries with extremely high cancer rates if the rise and prevalence of this deadly disease continues at alarming levels. In 2016, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had estimated that the current cancer incidence rate in India (around 14 lakh) could further grow by 25 percent by 2020.

A range of new innovations, from e-cigarettes to nicotine gums, have tried to help habitual smoking which the World Health Organization terms as ‘gradual killer’.

Improved expertise and increased investments in science and technology sector have also led to the invention of various kinds of cigarette filters. Made of paper, cellulose acetate fibers or activated charcoals, a cigarette filter is an essential component of the cigarette which traps injurious components like tar and phenols.

In a latest, Delhi-based startup Lambda Televentures is looking to market a newly developed cigarette filter technology which is likely to trap up to 80 percent of dangerous cancer causing elements, particularly those belonging to the PbSQ (a type of lead sulphate) class of compounds.

Started in 2008, Lambda Televentures Private Ltd works in the biosciences and life sciences space. Having closely monitored the innovations in cigarette filter technology, the startup has acquired global patents for ZIP Activated Charcoal Filter (ZIPAC), an innovation that endeavours to improve human life and reduce smoke-induced ailments, especially cancer.

According to Kunjan Arora, Executive Director of Lambda Televentures,

The innovation behind the ZIPAC technology has come about after two decades of hard work of Professor I B Chatterjee, an Indian scientist and his team. We have handpicked on this Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) project since its beneficiary impact is huge.

Lambda group has bought the technology behind ZIPAC from the Ministry of Science and Technology and is now in talks with different groups to raise about $2.5 million to market its cigarette filter technology in America.

Kunjan Arora, Executive Director of Lambda Televentures

“Most of the other cigarette filter technologies trap tar elements. Though multiple filters have been rolled out in the past 30 years, none have been successful in identifying the core cancer causing elements. Moreover, the efficiency of these filters is only up to 50 percent. The research behind ZIPAC focused on backward integration and recognised the causal agents for cancer,” says Kunjan.

Elaborating on the uniqueness of this technology, Kunjan adds,

One puff of cigarette contains close to 4,000 compounds, out of which 92-100 belonging to the PbSQ group were identified as the culprit elements contributing to cancer for the first time. ZIPAC is designed to specifically arrest and absorb PbSQ elements using activated charcoal.

Kunjan also reiterates how ZIPAC, when sandwiched between the existing white foam filters in cigarettes, can capture up to 80-85 percent of these PbSQ harmful particles. “Multiple scientific journals have also acknowledged compounds from the PbSQ family as being root causes of cancer. They technology has also been tested on guinea pigs, since their lungs are very similar to humans”.

When installed, ZIPAC will not affect the production or smoking experience in any way except that the length of the cigarette might be slightly reduced, says Kunjan.

Having functioned through personal savings/ earnings till now, Kunjan and his startup are currently keen on taking the ZIPAC technology across the globe, while also making it commercially available. “We are seeking monetary support to reach relevant markets in the US which is mainly controlled by key players like Philip Morris and British-American Tobacco (BAT). It’s crucial for us to seek funding support to carry out procedures like legal counselling, presenting a business case, tests and trails etc…”

Lambda Televentures has also written to the Prime Minister’s Office to help them get global recognition for the Indian-made ZIPAC technology. “We are hoping that they will extend support in regularising the market and making the use and installation of ZIPAC filters mandatory in all cigarettes in India,” says Kunjan.

We are also planning to sub-license the technology to several international companies who will pay royalty for up to 10 years, after which it will be made free to benefit mankind, he adds.

Though this patented technology is yet to yield any impact, Kunjan is hopeful that this life-saving filter can be a game-changer once it’s officially rolled out.

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