CSIR lab develops low-cost COVID-19 test

A leading lab under the state-backed Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), has developed a new low-cost CoVid19 testing kit

June 11, 2020

The kit uses the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) test which provides instant results

The RT-qPCR model being used for novel coronavirus testing has been previously used to detect viruses like Zika and Ebola

CSIR-IGIB has signed an MoU with Tata Sons for the launch of another COVID-19 testing kit named FELUDA

CSIR had published the Compendium of Indian Technologies for Combating COVID-19 (Tracing, Testing, Treating)

A low-cost SARS-COV2 testing kit has been developed by a research team at the CSIR – Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) utilizing the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) format. This format of the test allows scientists to gauge the results of the process while the test itself is ongoing as opposed to the traditional model where results can be gauged only once the test has concluded. The RT-qPCR model is known to have been used to detect pandemic viruses like Zika and Ebola. 

A similar initiative was born out of an MoU signed between The Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and Tata Sons. The proposed FNCAS9 Editor-Linked Uniform Detection Assay (FELUDA) kit for rapid detection of the novel coronavirus (CoVid 19) which has been slated to undergo on ground testing also contains provisions for the transfer and scaling of technical know-how. Enabled by Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) technology, this kit is also known for its affordability owing to its functionality independent of Q-PCR machines and its ease of use. 

In continuation of the Government of India’s COVID-19 efforts, the CSIR had earlier published the “Compendium of Indian Technologies for Combating COVID-19 (Tracing, Testing and Treating),” a paper with information contributed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), National Innovation Foundation (NIF), and educational institutions like Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institute(s) of Technology (IITs).

The Government of India has also launched the Aarogya Setu app, which is equipped with Bluetooth and GPS technology to strengthen contact tracing and help people assess their state of health. Additionally, other Central and State Government initiatives have been undertaken to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Public-Private Partnerships between Governments and startups have seen the use of innovative technologies in the detection, prevention, and treatment of the disease. With increased collaboration between the Government, academia, and entrepreneurial talent pool of India, untapped areas of research as well as much needed improvements in various aspects of healthcare and public infrastructure can be explored.