Indian academic institute develops probe-free COVID-19 testing kit

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-25 15:41:19|Editor: huaxia

NEW DELHI, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed a probe-free testing kit for COVID-19, which they claim has been approved by country's top health research body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), officials said Saturday.

"Researchers at IIT Delhi Kusuma School of Biological Sciences (KSBS) have developed a detection assay for COVID-19 which has now been approved by ICMR," reads a statement from IIT Delhi. "The assay has been validated at ICMR with a sensitivity and specificity of 100 percent. This makes IITD the first academic institute to have obtained ICMR approval for a real-time PCR-based diagnostic assay."

According to IIT Delhi, the test kit was the first probe-free assay for COVID-19 approved by ICMR and it will be useful for specific and affordable high throughput testing.

The assay can be easily scaled up as it does not require fluorescent probes, IIT said.

"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 coronaviruses providing an opportunity to specifically detect COVID-19," the statement 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."

The research team was targeting large scale deployment of the kit at affordable prices with suitable industrial partners as soon as possible.

India is currently battling COVID-19 amid imposing a countrywide lockdown. So far 775 people have been killed because of the virus and total cases in country have reached to 24,506. Enditem