Researchers at IIT-Delhi have developed an affordable COVID-19 detection kit that has received approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), becoming the first academic institute to achieve the feat.
“This is the first probe-free assay for COVID-19 approved by ICMR and it will be useful for specific and affordable high throughput testing,” IIT-Delhi Director V Ramagopal Rao said.
The coronavirus test kit developed by IIT-Delhi’s Kusuma School of Biological Sciences uses SYBR Green dye instead of the fluorescent probes that have to be imported for use in RT-PCR kits.
“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,” Rao said.
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ felicitated the research team including Prashant Pradhan, Ashutosh Pandey, Praveen Tripathi, Dr Akhilesh Mishra, Dr Parul Gupta, Dr Sonam Dhamija, Prof. Vivekanandan Perumal, Prof. Manoj B. Menon, Prof. Bishwajit Kundu, Prof. James Gomes of IIT Delhi.
Using comparative sequence analyses, the IIT Delhi team identified unique regions – short stretches of RNA sequences – in the COVID-19/SARS nCOV-2 genome, an IIT-Delhi statement said.
These regions are not present in other human coronaviruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect Covid-19, it said. 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 optimization using synthetic DNA constructs followed by in-vitro generated RNA fragments.