India’s CRISPR-based COVID Test – FELUDA Covid-19 Test
The Drugs Controller General of India has approved the commercial launch of an indigenously developed test that uses the cutting-edge CRISPR gene-editing technology and is affordable, quick, and accurate in detecting the COVID-19 causing virus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
This CRISPR-based COVID-19 test named Feluda, a paper-strip COVID-19 test can diagnose the virus in two hours and provides accurate results quickly. The Feluda test was developed by scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, in collaboration with the Tata Group. According to sources, the Feluda test is estimated to be priced at Rs. 500.
In order to identify and target the genetic material of the SARS-CoV2 virus, Feluda, the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay, uses indigenously developed CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) gene-editing technology. According to CSIR, the test has a quicker turnaround time and requires less expensive equipment and it matches accuracy levels of RT-PCR tests, considered the gold standard in the diagnosis of Covid-19.
The name ‘Feluda’ is the nickname of a fictional private detective in a series of popular Bengali novels, films, and short stories created by Satyajit Ray, a renowned writer, and filmmaker.
According to a press release issued by the ministry of science and technology, the test detects the novel coronavirus with 98% specificity and 96% sensitivity. A government statement said, “The Tata CRISPR test is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus successfully.”
Dr. Anurag Agrawal, IGIB director said that the Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti led IGIB team of was working on developing a genome-based diagnostic tool for sickle cell when the pandemic began. In less than 100 days, they harnessed their work to develop Feluda for Covid-19 diagnosis.
Working of the Feluda Test: Test contains a strip of paper that changes color on the detection of the virus in the sample, similar to a pregnancy test. The Feluda test can be used in a simple pathological lab and it can also be reconfigured to detect other pathogens as well at a later date. Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty explained the working of the test, where the Cas9 protein is barcoded to interact with the SARS-CoV2 sequence in the genetic material of the patient. Then, the Cas9-SARS-CoV2 complex is put on the paper strip, where determining if the test sample was infected with Covid-19 is made possible by using two lines (one control, one test).
A government statement said, “Progressing from R&D to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test, which meets guidelines set by the Indian Council for Medical Research, in less than 100 days marks a significant achievement for the Indian scientific community.”
The ministry’s statement said that to develop a ‘Made in India’ product that is affordable, accessible, reliable, and safe, the Tata Group worked closely with CSIR-IGIB and ICMR.
The CEO, Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd, Girish Krishnamurthy said, “The country’s efforts in fighting the global pandemic will be boosted with the approval of the Tata CRISPR test for COVID-19. India’s contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world can be transformed given the tremendous R&D talent in the country, which is shown with the commercialization of the Tata CRISPR test.”
The Tata Group, CSIR-IGIB team of scientists and students, and DCGI were complimented by Dr. Shekhar C Mande, DG-CSIR for their collaboration and work.
India’s CRISPR-based COVID Test – FELUDA Covid-19 Test, the first desi gene-based Covid test approved for commercial launch.