IIIT-A scientists develop faster, cheaper Covid test kit
Trial of nanotech-based kit prototype begins at KGMU-Lucknow, may replace costly
A team of scientists of Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, (IIIT-A) has developed a nanotechnology-based rapid testing kit for Covid-19. The kit could pave way for quicker and cheaper testing to detect Covid positive patients in the country and even prove to be a replacement for the widely being used RT-PCR tests which cost more and also require a costly lab set-up, say IIIT-A experts.
“The rapid diagnostic kit for novel coronavirus is being developed as part of a Government of India’s department of biotechnology (DBT) funded one year project ‘Development of rapid detection kit for novel Coronavirus’. We have already developed a prototype of the kit and its trial for proper validation is now under way at King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow,” said Amaresh Kumar Sahoo, assistant professor at department of applied sciences, IIIT-A, who is leading the efforts as the project’s principal investigator.
Other IIIT-A scientists actively involved in the project include prof Pritish Varadwaj, prof Krishna Misra and Sintu K Samanta. Tayyaba Afshan is working on this mission as a junior research fellow. “Prof Amita Jain, head, microbiology department, KGMU, Lucknow is collaborating with us on this project,” he said.
Sahoo said the kit being developed by them involves use of luminescent gold nanoparticle-based diagnosis of Covid that is performed within 15 minutes. “The viral RNA sample is detected by luminescent nanoparticles under UV-light illumination,” he said. Sahoo said it will be a low-cost diagnosis kit as compared to available RT-PCR-based and antibody-based tests.
“Each test using our kit would cost one-fifth of the cost of a RT-PCR test. It a RT-PCR test costs around ₹1000, a test by our kit would cost mere ₹200 or so. While a RT-PCR test takes around 4 hours or more for the result, using our kit the result would come within 15 minutes. Moreover, against a set-up needing machines costing ₹25-30 lakh for RT-PCR tests, our kit requires a set-up that costs just around ₹5 lakh,” he added.
Sahoo said the economical, effective and faster kit developed by the team had shown great results in the lab. “Now we are waiting for the validation results of the trial that should come in the next two months,” he said.
Director, IIIT-A, prof P Nagabhushan said the validation of the test kit developed by IIIT-A team being carried out at KGMU-Lucknow was under an MoU existing between the two institutions.