Sree Chitra Institute’s low-cost COVID-19 test kit gets ICMR nod

Sree Chitra Institute’s low-cost COVID-19 test kit gets ICMR nod

Thiruvananthapuram: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given preliminary clearance to the Chitra GeneLAMP-N test kit developed by Kerala-based Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Thiruvananthapuram for COVID-19 which costs less than Rs 1,000.

The normal test for the disease is PCR test which is much more expensive. Moreover, the equipment for PCR test is priced at around Rs 40 lakh while that for GeneLAMP-N test would be available for Rs 2.5 lakh.

The diagnostic test kit developed by the Thiruvananthapuram institute can detect coronavirus in 10 minutes, and the sample to result time will be less than two hours, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan tweeted on Friday.

A total of 30 samples can be tested in a single batch on a single machine, he said.

"The confirmatory diagnostic test, which detects the N Gene of #SARS_COV_2 using reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid, will be one of the world's first few, if not the first of its kind in the world," Vardhan tweeted.

Sree Chitra’s test works utilizing a technology called reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid (RT-LAMP). It is more accurate in locating the n-gene of the coronavirus than other tests. It is also among the first tests in the world using this technology.

The test would show correct results even when mutation occurs at any portion of the virus gene. This fact was proved when the test was scrutinized by experts at Virology Institute, Alappuzha following a directive from ICMR. In fact, the GeneLAMP-N could identify the gene within 10 minutes. Moreover, as 30 samples can be tested with one batch, widespread testing too may be carried out.

The kit was developed by a team at SCTIMST headed by senior scientist in the Biomedical Technology Department Dr Anoop Thekkuveettil.

Meanwhile, the technical know-how for commercial production of the test kits has been handed over to Agappe Diagnostics, an Ernakulam-based firm. Production would start as soon as the Central Drugs Control Department issued a licence. However, the royalty fees for SCTIMST has been waived considering the emergency situation, said Institute Director Dr Asha Kishore.

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