Covid-19 Detective Feluda: India’s Low-Cost Test Kit Detects Covid-19 In One Hour

The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use.

The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, received regulatory approvals today from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for commercial launch.

Feluda, which is an acronym for the FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay, is an indigenous Covid-19 testing mechanism. This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for the detection of the genomic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. CRISPR is a genome-editing technology to diagnosing diseases.

The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use. It does not have the same complexities as the RT-PCR test. It will cost Rs 600.

The new test kit of Covid-19, which gives results in just two hours and is the cheapest, is inspired by a fictional character from the Bengali detective novel of legendary filmmaker Satyajit Rai. The work for which the big detectives took a lot of time, Feluda used to solve them within minutes.

“The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, received regulatory approvals from DCGI for commercial launch, as per ICMR guidelines, meeting high-quality benchmarks with 96 percent sensitivity and 98 percent specificity for detecting novel coronavirus,” the statement said.

The Tata CRISPR test is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing Covid-19, it said.

Moreover, CRISPR is a futuristic technology that can also be configured for the detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.

“The Tata Group has worked closely with CSIR-IGIB and ICMR to create a high-quality test that will help the nation ramp up Covid-19 testing quickly and economically, with a ‘Made in India’ product that is safe, reliable, affordable and accessible,” the statement added.

Commenting on the development, Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd said, “The approval for the Tata CRISPR test for Covid-19 will give a boost to the country’s efforts in fighting the global pandemic.

“The commercialization of the Tata CRISPR test reflects the tremendous R&D talent in the country which can collaborate to transform India’s contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world,” he said.

“In the field, RT-PCR is a gold standard and Feluda does not compromise on the accuracy of it so it`s as good as RT-PCR test. That is why we are very confident on this Feluda test strip,” said CSIR Director-General Dr Shekhar Mande.

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