The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi’s project to develop a home kit for Covid-19 testing has got funding from Wells Fargo International Solutions through their philanthropic partner, United Way of Bengaluru (UWBe). IIT-Delhi and Wells Fargo recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of a peptide-based ELISA test for detection of COVID-19 antibodies. ELISA is short for ‘serological enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay’. ELISA can help determine whether a person possesses antibodies for COVID-19 in the blood.
IIT-Delhi claims that the test results can help identify antibodies in individuals who can then donate blood as part of the experimental treatment of infected patients. Wells Fargo will fund the project while UWBe will facilitate its implementation. The proof of concept for this project is expected by the end of 2020, and the kits could be in the market by March 2021, as estimated by the IIT.
The Principal Investigator of the project, Dr Anurag S Rathore, Dean, Corporate Relations and Professor, chemical engineering, Department, IIT-Delhi, said: “This project — a collaboration between IIT, Delhi and National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune — has the potential of making a meaningful difference to this situation by enabling affordable, home-based testing.”
“We also aim to create an economical, commercial process for manufacturing the antigens used in ELISA and home-based diagnostic kits to offer an effective, quick, robust and affordable diagnostic solution for the COVID-19 outbreak,” Prof. Rathore added.
V Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT-Delhi, said, “We are happy to be associated with Wells Fargo and United Way of Bengaluru. This collaboration will have an immediate impact, allowing us to accelerate time-critical research to develop solutions. This funding for the project on COVID-19 detection research shall help the nation combat these difficult times.”
IIT-Delhi had earlier developed a low-cost COVID-19 RT-PCR test kit, which has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and is available in the market.
The concept behind the test kit
“This research will utilise the microplate-based enzyme immune-assay technique. The choice of antigen will be a peptide that has been computationally identified. Structural analysis of the available complex will be performed to design a novel peptide that has a complimentary property with a spike protein of COVID-19. A set of peptides will be designed using a combination approach to test their binding. From the sequences of the variable regions of the Heavy and Light chain including the novel designed peptide, cloning of the mAb fragment (CV-Fab) will be performed. CV-Fab will be produced from which ELISA based testing kits will be created,” the IIT said in an official statement.
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