Context: CSIR-IIIM, Jammu a constituent laboratory of CSIR has partnered with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to develop and scale-up a new Reverse Transcriptase-Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP) based COVID-19 diagnostic kit.
COVID-19 RT-LAMP test
- It is a nucleic acid-based test carried out from a nasal/throat swab sample from patients.
- Nucleic acid is a complex organic substance present in living cells, especially DNA or RNA, whose molecules consist of many nucleotides linked in a long chain.
- The test recipe has been developed and successfully demonstrated using synthetic templates.
- It has been tested with a small number of patients samples and validating the kit on more number of patient samples is planned and will be done together with RIL.
- Advantages of the test
- It is rapid (45-60 min), cost-effective, and accurate test.
- RT-LAMP test can be done in a single tube with minimal expertise in a very basic lab setup like mobile units/kiosks for testing at Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Stands, and other public places.
- The end detection of the test is a simple colored reaction, which is easily visible in UV light. It is also being modified such that it can be detected in regular light.
- The components of the kit are easily available and these can be completely manufactured in India.
- Advantages over PCR tests
- On the other hand, the current COVID-19 testing is done by real-time PCR their components are mostly imported.
- Further, real-time PCR tests are expensive; they require highly trained manpower, costly instruments, and a relatively high-end lab and cannot be deployed at remote locations in quarantine centers, airports and railway stations, etc.
About Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
- The standard test for COVID-19 so far has been the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
- It is done after taking nasal or throat swabs of the patient, from which RNA is extracted and converted to DNA, which is then amplified before being checked for confirmation of the virus.
- The PCR test takes up to nine hours.
- The long time is also because the swab is first screened to decide the family of the virus; if that confirms it is a coronavirus, a second test is done to ascertain if it is indeed the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2.
- After testing the accuracy of the kit, on a much larger number of patients, CSIR-IIIM and RIL will jointly approach ICMR for approval.
- RIL plans to rapidly scale up the tests for the larger population and use it for easy, rapid, and widespread diagnosis for COVID-19 detection for the larger interest of society.
Image Source: PIB