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Bengaluru startup develops Covid test that detects Omicron

OmiCrisp has been developed in collaboration with an initiative supported by the central Department of Biotechnology.

omicron, long covid, delta, covid testing, covid symptomsThe test has been developed in collaboration with C-CAMP-InDx (indigenization of diagnostics programme), an initiative supported by the central Department of Biotechnology. (Representational Image)
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CrisprBits, a startup incubated by Bengaluru-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), has developed a test called OmiCrisp to detect the coronavirus and determine whether it is an Omicron or non-Omicron variant.

The test has been developed in collaboration with C-CAMP-InDx (indigenization of diagnostics programme), an initiative supported by the central Department of Biotechnology.

CrisprBits uses CRISPR, a gene-editing technology. “The test has been validated with significant contribution and expertise of the Department of Biotechnology’s inStem (Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine) bio-repository and Strand Life Sciences, a genomics-based research and diagnostics company. This is different from many other tests in the market that use RT-PCR signal dropout to identify Omicron variants. The test was tested on over 80 clinical samples and was 100 per cent accurate in identifying whether a sample was Omicron or non-Omicron when compared with sequencing results,” CrisprBits said in a statement.

Dr Taslimarif Saiyed, CEO and director of the C-CAMP, said the test was a landmark in many ways, “one of them being the translation of a cutting-edge technology, CRISPR, to a product of immediate public health and social significance”. Another way is its implication for future surveillance for infectious diseases in society, he said. “Together they underline C-CAMP’s mandate to foster science for societal impact,” he added.

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Sunil Arora, director and CEO of CrisprBits, said that while RT-PCR tests were commonly used for diagnosing coronavirus, next-generation sequencing (NGS) was the most reliable method for identifying new strains and understanding their spread. “Many low- and middle-income countries, including India, have struggled to implement NGS on a large scale due to the cost, time and complexity involved. This has led to a lack of tracking and understanding of the virus strains in these populations. This is where OmiCrisp can play an important role,” he said.

The OmiCrisp test is being used in a study to detect the presence of Omicron variants in sewage samples in a collaborative study with a grant from GiveIndia, which describes itself as the country’s largest and most trusted giving platform, and the community-run fund CryptoRelief.

First published on: 25-01-2023 at 20:19 IST
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