Bhargav Sri Prakash, a Chennai-based entrepreneur who has promoted a life sciences start-up called FriendsLearn, has been granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademarks Office, for his ‘systems and methods for digital vaccine’. 

FriendsLearn is the official research partner of the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, US, which has a ‘digital vaccine project’. 

‘Digital vaccine’ refers to training the brain (‘neuro-cognitive training’) to do or not do things in order to avoid diseases. This is done by creating an ‘avatar’ of a person in a virtual reality situation — metaverse — and taking the avatar through ‘games’. The metaverse experience will induce the brain to stimulate certain physiological changes in the body. To give a simple example, a child can be ‘taught’ to avoid chocolates. 

“The patient becomes an avatar and is trained by neuro-modulation”, Bhargav told BusinessLine. “That is the pathway through which we are able to prevent diseases,” he said. 

Bhargav, an alumnus of Vidya Mandir, is a mechanical engineer from the Anna University. Earlier, he started a virtual reality company called Vmerse, to help universities admit students from such strata of the society as would require affirmative action. These people would just not come to campuses, being intimidated by the ambience. Vmerse would take them through the universities through virtual reality, so as to give them a ‘real feel’. Vmerse was later taken over by a large American company.

Earlier, he had started another company called CAD Corporation which would provide simulation services for automotive companies, to check (for example) the fuel economy of a new car under development. This company too was sold to another American company. 

On the basis of this experience, Bhargav joined hands with the Carnegie Mellon University for the Digital Vaccine Project, in which a person would be immersed in a virtual reality situation (metaverse) and his brain tuned to such lifestyles as would keep a disease away. 

In the last two years, “we realised that we are in a position to also boost the immune system to lower the risk of infectious diseases,” Bhargav said. 

Bhargav’s patent is for the platform on which specific digital vaccines for different diseases could be developed.  

Controlled clinical trials

Now, FriendsLearn is preparing for randomised controlled clinical trials (RCT) “with an aim to measure outcomes of Digital Vaccine plus Artificial Intelligence on cholesterol, blood glucose, ketones, glycoprotein acetyls, amino acids, body mass index.” 

In the patent publication, he says, “Through partnerships, we will continue to push to set a global standard for a compulsory DV for every child in our world, backed by recommendations and policy frameworks from ministries of health/education. DV+AI is also on the cusp of gaining endorsement from organisations such as World Health Organization (WHO)/United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)/United Nations Development Program (UNDP).”