Scientists at CSIR-IGIB (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research‘s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology), New Delhi have developed a paper-based strip for testing COVID-19 named ‘FELUDA’.
It Can test Covid-19 in just a few minutes.
It is named after Satyajit Ray’s popular fictional detective character and stands for “FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay’’.
“It will detect the presence of a virus in just a few minutes, like Feluda,”-Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty said and that’s how it got its name.
Feluda’s test strip has been invented by a team led by two scientists Dr. Souvik Maiti and Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty at the CSIR-IGIB, New Delhi.
BASIS OF FELUDA
This test kit uses CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.
CRISPR Cas9 enzyme recognizes specific genetic sequences and cuts them in a short time. CRISPR reaction is specific and can be done in 5-10 minutes.
The presence of the viral genome(RNA) is detected directly.
For this, samples are collected from the patient, and from this RNA, cDNA (Complementary DNA) is prepared. It is amplified using the polymerase chain reaction or PCR (done on a simple PCR machine ).
It is then mixed with Cas9 protein which is specific and binds to this cDNA. Lastly, the mixture is applied on a paper strip and after few minutes a line appears.
Some sources say that ‘a grey line’ appears, but the confirmation regarding the color has not been made.
HOW IT IS DONE?
A swab is taken from the person at the collection center in the hospital. It is then put into a viral inactivation media and the sample containing inactivated viral particles is dispatched to the lab where the RNA(viral genome) is extracted and the above process is done.
Real-time polymerase chain reaction test (qPCR) costs Rs 4,500 in private labs, whereas the ‘Feluda test’ could cost as little as Rs 500-600.
one qPCR machine costs around Rs 14-15 lakhs and probes are imported, and it also takes several hours.
“Our paper strip does not require any ‘level 2‘ or ‘level 3‘ lab to test, unlike most PCR based tests. This can be done in any simple pathological lab. We have imported serological rapid test kits, but this paper test technology is different,” -Dr. Anurag Agrawal, Director of CSIR-IGIB added.
Rapid: it can be done in a few minutes
Great accuracy as it is highly specific
How it is different?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and the University of California, Berkeley use other CRISPR proteins Cas12 and Cas13 for detection.
Diseases Feluda can detect?
Feluda can detect DNA/RNA sequences. Kits would be optimized for every application but basic technology will remain the same. Feluda can detect mistakes in DNA or RNA that manifest as a disease. It can detect genetic diseases, cancer, as well as some mutations, etc
So the list is endless.
WHEN IT WILL BE READY TO USE
Tata Sons plans to commercialize it.
Tata Sons said- “We are happy to enter into a partnership with IGIB of CSIR for further development and commercialization of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) based technology for COVID-19 detection.”
Hope everything goes well for them!!