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A 500 rupees kit: Feluda could prove out to be breakthrough for COVID-19 testing in India

  • HEALTH
  • Team PresentMirror | Updated: April 26, 2020, 2:30 p.m.




The difference is that it uses uniquely designed PCR reaction which amplifies part of viral nucleic acid sequence. The intriguing thing is that the test takes less than one hour to show results. It is because, it is a trend in MIT, even researchers there named a similar product working on CRISPR, as Sherlock.


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A low-cost testing kit for covid-19 called “Feluda”, has been recently introduced by scientists at CSIR’s institute of genomics and integrated biology. The IGIB director, Anurag Agarwal said that the kit has been developed by Debjyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti. He also said that the kit is relatively simple and gives the result at relatively lesser time.

Agarwal also said that its mechanism is similar with the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which extracts and converts RNA into DNA. The difference is that it uses uniquely designed PCR reaction which amplifies part of viral nucleic acid sequence. A highly specific CRISPR, FnCAS9 (developed by IGIB) then binds to that sequence, he added.

This chemistry is used on a paper strip, called the CRISPR complex, bound to that specific sequence can be visualized as a positive band which is similar to the home urine pregnancy test kit. The intriguing thing is that the test takes less than one hour to show results.

In this test RNA is converted into DNA by using special primer and probes, with florescent reporters, to amplify and detect the nucleic acid presence. Real-time PCR machines are required for this test and these machines are expensive and are available at specialized sites only.

Agarwal said, “If successfully commercialized, which depends upon all its components being available at scale and the commercial product being successfully validated by regulatory agencies, it would allow the test to be done in local path-labs that do not have expensive real-time PCR machines, but simple cheap thermometer blocks used for conventional PCR”.

It was named “Feluda” after Prodosh Chandra Mitter, a fictional detective character in series of Bengali novels. It is because, it is a trend in MIT, even researchers there named a similar product working on CRISPR, as Sherlock. Feluda, which costs just 500 rupees, can prove out to be a breakthrough in the field of COVID-19 testing in India.

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