A National Diagnositic Centre will be set up in the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).
Announcing this at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said that the mandate of the proposed Diagnostic Centre will be to develop competitive diagnostic kits for various diseases afflicting people of the country.
He said two diagnostic kits developed by ICGEB scientists for Dengue and Hepatitis C have been extremely successful within the country and are being exported to many countries of the world by the companies to whom the technology was transferred. The companies expect to achieve a turnover of Rs 170 crore by this financial year end, he added.
With nearly 20 per cent of the product being exported, the diagnostic kit for Dengue known as Dengucheck selling since last three years, has seen a 300 per cent increase in sales and the Hepatitis C virus diagnostic kit called Falvicheck has seen a 150 per cent increase in sales.
Dengue infection is one of the emerging infectious diseases and has reached epidemic proportions globally and causes significant mortality and morbidity in the country.
According to Dr Navin Khanna, who along with Prof VS Chauhan of ICGEB developed the kits, "the problem with dengue is that there is large number of false positives in diagnosis, you have malaria but may be diagnosed as having dengue."
"There are certain portions of the virus of dengue which are similar to other viruses and they can create false positives. Our research was to find dengue virus' specific proteins. The diagnostic kit we have developed thus has hundred per cent specificity and sensitivity to dengue whereby it will not give any false positives."
Mr Sibal said that the technology for production of unique virus specific designer recombinant antigens for Dengue and Hepatitis C virus with financial support from Department of Biotechnology were transferred to Tulip Group of companies based at Goa, an R&D driven Indian diagnostic major with presence in about 55 countries across the world.
Both these products have been commercially available in India and have been successfully used by various laboratories and hospitals across the nation for the last two three years, he added.
The kits are available to the public health system at 25 per cent less than the market price, he added.