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IISc incubated startup develops homegrown RT-PCR testing kit
Equine Biotech, a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has developed an indigenous RT-PCR diagnostic kit called "GlobalTM diagnostic kit" for accurate and affordable diagnosis of COVID-19.
Bengaluru: Equine Biotech, a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has developed an indigenous RT-PCR diagnostic kit called "GlobalTM diagnostic kit" for accurate and affordable diagnosis of COVID-19.
The test kit, based on Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), the gold standard for COVID-19 diagnosis, has been approved for use in authorised COVID-19 diagnostic labs by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
According to Utpal Tatu, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, IISc, and founder of Equine Biotech, the test takes about 1.5 hours to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in patient samples.
"Our startup has been working on testing for coronavirus infections for many years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. This experience has helped us engineer the kit for COVID-19," says Tatu.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 30 million people and caused more than 900,000 deaths worldwide. India currently has the second-highest number of reported cases, with more than five million people infected.
Ramping up testing in the country is crucial for tracking and controlling the spread of this infectious disease for which it is imperative that home-grown diagnostics kits be mass-produced and made accessible to a larger population.
The IISc stated that in RT-PCR, RNA ‒ the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 ‒ is transcribed into complementary DNA by a process called reverse transcription, and then amplified. The PCR reaction is monitored in real-time with the help of a fluorescent DNA-binding dye. The degree of fluorescence indicates the severity of the infection.
Equine Biotech previously developed diagnostic tests for screening livestock, especially cattle and horses, for blood parasitic diseases such as trypanosomiasis, trichomoniasis, theileriosis, and babesiosis. It is currently seeking to license its new COVID-19 test kit and work with med-tech companies and other industries for mass producing, marketing, and distribution of these kits.