Scientists in India have successfully developed a low-cost, paper-strip coronavirus test which can detect the virus within an hour. This comes at the time when India's rapid testing necessity has come up.
This paper-strip test uses CRISPR-Cas9, a cutting-edge gene editing tool that targets and identifies specific genome sequence of the novel coronavirus. The scientists have been working on this technology since two years and started applying it to coronavirus since two months. It took us around two months to come up with these results," said Dr Debjyoti Chakraborty, Institute of Genomic and Integrative Biology (IGIB), CSIR in New Delhi, reported liveMint.
Similar to the pregnancy test
The new kit developed is a portable paper-strip similar to the test used to confirm pregnancy and there is no need for any specialized skill to do a test, according to researchers
Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Director of CSIR-IGIB said that there is no need for dedicated machinery to perform the test, but can be performed using common equipment available in all pathological labs or even mohalla clinics of Delhi, India's capital. "This is important, because if number of infections shoot up drastically, we would need tests which can be done in local facilities. We will have to bring the tests closer to the patients to reduce transmission and this is what it does," he added
The research team was led by Dr Souvik Maiti and Dr Debjyoti Chakraborty. They are currently testing the kit for accuracy and sensitivity, while they hope to get validation from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) within a week, the authority in India that gives the green signal.
The paper-strip test could cost about $6.54, while classical PCR costs almost $59 in India. Scientists elsewhere around the world have tested with similar approaches like the Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).