Udayavni Special

Netherlands shows interest in indigenously developed Feluda test


PTI, Sep 29, 2020, 6:05 PM IST

New Delhi: The Netherlands has evinced interest in the ‘Feluda’ test for COVID-19 indigenously developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), its director-general Shekhar Mande said on Tuesday.

Mande said Netherlands wants to ramp up its coronavirus testing capacity and has written to the CSIR asking about the test.

“They have written to us and shown interest in the Feluda test. We have forwarded the request to the TATA group as they are our commercial partners,” Mande said.

According to the World Health Organisation dashboard, until September 28, the Netherlands reported 1,11,150 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 6,365 fatalities.

“Unlike before, we would resort to reverse engineering. But Feluda test is an indigenously developed test with the capability to be used at the global level,” Mande added.

He noted that the Feluda test is cheaper than the RT-PCR test.

Earlier this week, the Drugs Controller General of India approved the commercial launch of ‘Feluda’, the Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) COVID-19 test.

Feluda, named after Satyajit Ray’s detective character, has been developed by Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti, scientists with the CSIR’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), as a simpler way of detecting SARS-coV2 presence.

An acronym for the FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay, Feluda uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

CRISPR is a gene-editing technology and is used in correcting genetic defects and treating and preventing the spread of diseases.

The test meets high-quality benchmarks with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus.

Sensitivity is defined as the ability of a test to correctly identify individuals with the disease, while specificity is the ability of the assay to accurately identify those without the disease.

Similar to a pregnancy strip test, Feluda changes colour if the virus is detected and doesn’t need expensive machines for detection.

The test starts the same way as a normal RT-PCR, i.e. by extraction of RNA (Ribonucleic acid) and its conversion to DNA. It then differs by using a differently designed PCR reaction to amplify a part of the viral nucleic acid sequence and then a highly specific CRISPR, FnCAS9, developed at IGIB, to specifically bind to that sequence.

Using innovative chemistry on a paper strip, the CRISPR complex bound to that specific sequence can be visualised as a positive band – like one sees in simple pregnancy tests.

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