India on Frontline with First Paper -Strip Test against COVID-19

The exponential surge in the count of infected people compels India to undertake a strategic rapid-testing approach to ensure timely isolation of the positive cases and prevent the virus from spreading. While scientists in other countries, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, are in the process of testing such approach, a team of Indian scientists at the CSIR- Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) has successfully developed the first such indigenous low-cost, paper-strip testing kit based on the CRISPR technology. 

About the Test

The test uses an advanced gene-editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, that can detect the viral RNA of the novel coronavirus within an hour, which can address the country’s urgent need for rapid-testing. The mechanism of the technology involves targeting and identifying the genomic sequences of the virus in the samples of the suspected individual. The expensive real time PCR test currently being used for diagnosing the virus cost around ₹4500. On the other hand, the paper-strip test is relatively economical, costing less than ₹500, performed with standard equipment available in a pathological laboratory.

Companies Initiative

Beyond government actions, private companies are also chipping in by devising ways to provide testing solutions. For instance, Mylab Discovery Solutions, a Pune-based molecular diagnostics company, received statutory approvals to develop the first COVID-19 testing kit. Currently, the company is producing around 200 kits per day, with each kit capable of testing 100 samples. These kits are delivered to government-authorized labs, and give test results within 2.5 hours.

Another company NovaLead Pharma from Pune, has deployed computational technology that identifies existing drugs with potential efficiency against the SARS-Cov2 virus, and also to minimize its impact on the human body. So far, the company has successfully identified 42 existing drugs that can prove effective to patients at different stages of SARS-Cov-2 infection.

Thus, with the increasing demand for path-breaking research technology, and the growing awareness regarding gene therapeutics, the global market for CRISPR technology is evolving at 32.04% of growth rate in the coming future. The companies actively operating in the global market include Editas, Intellia, Sigma Aldrich, Genscript, and Oregene.

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Inkwood Research has published several detailed business research reports in the biotechnology category of the healthcare industry, with updated analysis on the economic impact that the global pandemic is expected to cause.