Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology have developed a method to detect COVID-19 which can significantly reduce the test cost, making it affordable for large sections.

More about the news:

  • ‘Probe-free detection assay’ has been sent to The National Institute of Virology, Pune;which is in the process of validating this test on clinical samples.
  • The central government recently recommended that the maximum charge for a COVID-19 test by private laboratories should not exceed Rs 4,500.
  • Guidelines issued by ICMR for COVID-19 testing in private laboratories
    • All private laboratories which have NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accreditation for real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay for RNA virus will be allowed to conduct COVID-19 tests.
  • Considering the scale of the ongoing pandemic, development of indigenous kits is the need of the hour.

About the COVID-19 test developed by IIT Delhi 

  • Using comparative sequence analysis, the team has identified unique regions in COVID-19
  • These unique regions are not present in other human coronaviruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect COVID-19
  • Once the National Institute of Virology validates the assay, it can be quickly scaled up to meet the increasing need in our country.
  • Current testing methods available are “probe-based”, while the one developed by the IIT Delhi team is “probe-free”, which reduces the testing cost without compromising on accuracy.
  • Accurate results:
    • The Primer sets targeting unique regions in the spike protein of COVID-19 were designed and tested using real time polymerase chain reaction. 
    • The primers designed by the group specifically bind to regions conserved in over 200 fully sequenced COVID-19 genomes. 
    • The sensitivity of this in-house assay is comparable to that of commercially available kits.
  •  Specific and affordable high throughput screening:
    • This assay can be used as a qualitative (yes or no) assay without the need for extensive instrumentation. 
    • It can also quantitatively assess virus loads. It can be used for specific and affordable high throughput screening of COVID 19.

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Image Source: The Hindu