CSIR-IGIB, TATA to make COVID-19 testing kit

The Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and business conglomerate TATA Sons have signed an MoU for licensing of technological know-how to facilitate the development of a kit for rapid and accurate diagnosis of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

May 5, 2020

The kit, named FNCAS9 Editor-Linked Uniform Detection Assay (FELUDA) for Rapid Diagnosis of COVID-19, is a completely indigenous scientific invention

The license includes the transfer of the knowledge for scaling up the know-how in the form of a kit that can be deployed for COVID-19 testing as early as end-May

The device’s main advantages are its affordability, relative ease of use and non-dependency on expensive Q-PCR machines that can be deployed for mass testing

The Indian pharmaceutical industry, 3rd largest in the world by volume and the largest provider of generic drugs, is at the forefront of COVID-19 initiatives

The Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), a leading laboratory under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and business conglomerate TATA Sons have signed an MoU for licensing of technological know-how to facilitate the development of a kit for rapid and accurate diagnosis of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The kit is called FNCAS9 Editor-Linked Uniform Detection Assay (FELUDA) for Rapid Diagnosis of COVID-19.

The license includes the transfer of the knowledge for scaling up the know-how in the form of a kit that can be deployed for COVID-19 testing on the ground as early as the end of May. A completely indigenous scientific invention, FELUDA for COVID-19 caters to mass testing. The device’s main advantages are its affordability, relative ease of use, and non-dependency on expensive Q-PCR machines. CSIR IGIB and TATA Sons are working to bring it for widespread use at the earliest.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry, 3rd largest in the world by volume and the largest global provider of generic drugs, is currently at the forefront of initiatives to find a cure for COVID-19. Indian researchers are working on new drugs, vaccines, genome sequencing, plasma therapy, PPEs, and medical devices for the pandemic. India has also been exporting key drugs to around 55 countries, spanning Malaysia to the United States, to help tackle the health crisis. 

The MoU will allow further development and commercialisation of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) based technology for COVID-19 detection. This FELUDA test uses CRISPR technology for the detection of the genomic sequence of the novel coronavirus. It uses a test protocol that is simple to administer and easy to interpret, enabling results that are made available in relatively lesser time, as compared to other test protocols.  

The technology was developed at CSIR-IGIB under the sickle cell mission and uses an indigenously developed CRISPR Cas9 technology to recognize the COVID-19 sequence in a sample. A combination of CRISPR biology and paper-strip chemistry leads to a visible signal readout on a paper strip that can be rapidly assessed for establishing the presence of viral infection in a sample. CRISPR can also be configured for the detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.