Context: Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research — Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) have developed a low-cost, paper-strip test.

More about the test:

  • The test, named Feluda after a fictional detective character created by Satyajit Ray.
  • Feluda is also an acronym for the scientific name of the test — Fncas9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.
  • Use of new technology
    • The test is based on a bacterial immune system protein called Cas9. It uses cutting-edge gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 system. The team has repurposed it for diagnosis of COVID-19 genetic material.
    • This technology is not limited to COVID-19 and can work on any DNA-RNA or single mutations, disease mutations etc.
  • Reduce the time and cost: It is a low-cost, paper-strip test which can detect the new coronavirus within an hour. It is expected to cost around Rs 500 against the RT-PCR test that costs Rs 4,500 in private labs.
  • How it Works: Any throat/nose swab sample can be taken and then an RT-PCR which converts the RNA and makes multiple copies of DNA. Once we have multiple copies of DNA, then the Crispr-Cas9 system is used and  put into the strip. The result will come out in one minute.

Other similar technologies:

  • There are two other technologies developed by MIT and the University of California, Berkeley which also use Crispr systems, but different technology and proteins.
  • Their technologies are named Detector and Sherlock.

Significance of feluda:

  • There is an urgent need for extensive testing in the country and the paper-based strip will help fill the gap.
  • Easy to use: Since it is a visual test, there is no need for complicated training, unlike the current RT-PCR test. It can be done rapidly and can be used at any basic community health centre. 



About Genome Editing

Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism's DNA. 

  • These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. 
  • Several approaches to genome editing have been developed. 

About Crispr Cas9

  • A recent one is known as CRISPR-Cas9, which is short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9.
  • CRISPR-Cas9 was adapted from a naturally occurring genome editing system in bacteria. 
  • The bacteria capture snippets of DNA from invading viruses and use them to create DNA segments known as CRISPR arrays. 
  • The CRISPR arrays allow the bacteria to "remember" the viruses (or closely related ones). If the viruses attack again, the bacteria produce RNA segments from the CRISPR arrays to target the viruses' DNA. 
  • The bacteria then use Cas9 or a similar enzyme to cut the DNA apart, which disables the virus.

Souce: Vox.com


  • The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), known for its cutting edge R&D knowledgebase in diverse S&T areas, is a contemporary R&D organization. 
  • CSIR has put in place CSIR@80: Vision & Strategy 2022 – New CSIR for New India. CSIR’s mission is “to build a new CSIR for a new India” and CSIR’s vision is to “Pursue science which strives for global impact, the technology that enables innovation-driven industry and nurtures trans-disciplinary leadership thereby catalyzing inclusive economic development for the people of India”.
  • CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942 as an autonomous body.
  • Although it is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/csir-scientists-name-new-test-after-fictional-sleuth-may-cost-rs-500-6373455/

Image Source: Indian Express