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CSIR-IGIB scientists develops ”Feluda” a low-cost coronavirus test strip

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On April 22, 2020  The Scientists at Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-IGIB) has developed ”Feluda” a low-cost coronavirus test strip which will not require any expensive machines & is a simple way of detecting  Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-coV2).IGIB scientists develop low cost COVID-19 test

  • It is developed by Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti & the total time required for the test is less than an hour.

Gist about the test

i.It starts the same way as a normal real-time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which is the extraction of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and its conversion to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

ii.But it differs as it uses a specifically designed PCR reaction to amplify a part of the viral nucleic acid sequence & then a highly specific Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), FnCAS9, developed at IGIB, binds to that sequence.

iii.It uses innovative chemistry on a paper strip, the CRISPR complex, bound to that specific sequence, can be visualised as a positive band like a pregnancy test strip, and will not require any specialised skill and machines to perform, as is the case with other PCR-based tests & will be 100% accurate.

iv.In the RT-PCR tests, the RiboNucleic acid (RNA) is converted to DeoxyriboNucleic Acid(DNA)by using specific primers and probes, with fluorescent reporters, to amplify and detect viral nucleic acid presence & requires expensive Real-Time PCR machines which are available at specialised sites.

v.RT-PCR’s price is capped at Rs 4,500 in private labs but the ‘Feluda’ test will cost as little as  Rs 500.

vi.If the test is successfully commercialised, which depends upon all its components availability at scale & the commercial product successfully validated by regulatory agencies, the institute will allow the test to be done in local path-labs that do not have expensive real-time PCR machines, but simple cheap thermo-blocks used for conventional PCR.

  • Cutting-edge gene-editing CRISPR-CAS-9 technology to target and identify genomic sequence of the novel coronavirus in suspected individuals.

Why is it named as Feluda?
It gets its name after the detective character in legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s stories as it will detect the presence of a virus in just a few minutes. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of California, Berkeley also use CRISPR, but with different technologies, they have named the tests as ”Detector” and ”Sherlock”, so Feluda was named as an Indian version.

CRISPR technology recognises specific genetic sequences and cuts them in a short time. It is a powerful technique that worked in detecting the Zika virus too.

About IGIB
Headquarters– New Delhi, India
Director– Anurag Agrawal

About CSIR:
Headquarters– New Delhi, India
Director General– Shekhar C. Mande