Apollo to deploy gene editing tool-based Covid test

Bengaluru's Apollo Hospital to deploy gene editing tool-based Covid-19 test

Apollo Hospital. Credit: DH file photo.

The city’s Apollo Hospital is among eight in the country where the world’s first gene-editing tool-based (CRISPR Cas-9) Covid-19 diagnostic test will be available in the next few weeks.

Dubbed 'Feluda', the test, developed by the government-run Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), is paper-based and will give the results in 45 minutes.

By contrast, it takes eight hours to complete the conventional RT-PCR test cycle in a qPCR machine.

The test will also be available in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

“Since this is a new technology, training will be conducted for technicians and clinicians,” a spokesperson for Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited said in a statement to DH.

“We expect the commencement of services in the first week of December.”

Rates fixed by govt  

As for the cost, Apollo will follow the RT-PCR rates fixed by the state.

Though the process concerning sample collection, RNA extraction and amplification will remain the same, this lab test will dispense with the use of the expensive qPCR machines and require only the standard lab equipment.

“Many Bengaluru hospitals use rapid RT-PCR tests. The Abbott ID NOW Covid-19 test takes five minutes to determine a positive result and 13 minutes for a negative result.

It is a boon in emergency situations,” said Dr C N Manjunath, the state’s nodal officer for Covid-19 testing and a member of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

Though Abbott gave him a demonstration recently, Dr Manjunath said they are yet to discuss procuring such tests by the state health department and including Feluda in TAC.

Now dubbed TataMD CHECK, Feluda was commercially launched by Tata Medical and Diagnostic Ltd, the healthcare venture by the Tata Group.