The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a COVID-19 test method developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, which will make detection of the virus more affordable.
“The detection assay has been validated at ICMR with a sensitivity and specificity of 100%. This makes IIT-D the first academic institute to have obtained ICMR approval for a real-time PCR-based diagnostic assay,” the institute said in a statement.
“Using comparative sequence analyses, the IIT Delhi team identified unique regions (short stretches of RNA sequences) in the COVID-19 /SARS COV-2 genome. These regions are not present in other human corona viruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect COVID-19. This method uses primers targeting unique regions of COVID-19 that were designed and tested using real time PCR. These primers specifically bind to regions conserved in over 400 fully sequenced COVID-19 genomes. This highly sensitive assay was developed by extensive optimisation using synthetic DNA constructs followed by in vitro generated RNA fragments,” it added.
The institute said this was “the first probe-free assay for COVID-19 approved by ICMR” and it will be useful for specific and affordable high throughput testing.
“This assay can be easily scaled up as it does not require fluorescent probes. The team is targeting large scale deployment of the kit at affordable prices with suitable industrial partners as soon as possible,” the IIT said.
The assay has been developed by a team of nine teachers and students at Kusuma School of Biological Science, including PhD scholars Prashant Pradhan, Ashutosh Pandey and Praveen Tripathi, post-doctoral fellows Parul Gupta and Akhilesh Mishra and professors Vivekanandan Perumal, Manoj B Menon, James Gomes and Bishwajit Kundu.
“The sensitivity of this in-house assay is comparable to that of commercially available kits,” researchers said.
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