Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 24 (PTI)In yet another testing initiative for coronavirus, the premier Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) here has developed an innovative technology-based kit for isolating RNA from swab samples that will enhance the chances of identifying positive cases of the contagion.
The “Chitra Magna” uses magnetic nanoparticle to capture and concentrate the ribonucleic acid (RNA) from the patient’s swab sample and the institute has filed for patent for the technology, which is simpler than imported isolation kits, it said.
Barring a few domestic manufacturers, the majority of RNA isolation kits are imported and non-availability of them often becomes a severe bottleneck for RT-PCR (Reverse transcriptase- Polymerase chain reaction) testing in large numbers across the country, a release from the institute said on Thursday.
The new technology announcement comes days after SCTIMST, recognised as an Institution of National Importance under the Union Department of Science and Technology, came out with a cheaper and faster diagnostic test kit to confirm COVID-19.
Earlier, in a first of its kind project, the institute has initiated the convalescent plasma therapy, which uses antibodies from the blood of cured patients to treat critically ill COVID-19 cases.
The magna kit can be deployed for both PCR and Chitra Gene LAMP-N for tests to detect COVID-19 which has claimed over 700 deaths and affected over 23,000 people in the country.
Dr Anoop Thekkuveettil and his team, which came up with Chitra GeneLAMP-N, has developed Chitra Magna, T, said.
It said the SARS-COV-2, the causative virus of coronavirus pandemic, is a virus that uses RNA, a long single stranded polymeric substance present in all living cells and carries the genetic information of the organism necessary for life.
One of the critical steps in detectingthis virus is by confirming the presence of the RNA of the virus in the sample taken from the throat or nose of a person.
In the lab, the RNA of SARS-CoV-2 is extracted, converted into DNA and amplified using the PCR technique or LAMP technique, the release said.
“Chitra Magna” would give a significant advantage in the extraction as even if some viral RNA disintegrates during storage and transportation of the samples, all of it is captured by the magnetic bead-based extraction technology.
The magnetic nanoparticle beads bind to the viral RNA and when exposed to a magnetic field, gives a highly purified and concentrated level of RNA.
As the yield of PCR or LAMP test is dependent on getting adequatequantity of viral RNA, this innovation enhances the chances of identifying positive cases, the release said.
‘Chitra Magna’ can be usedto extract high purity RNA from patient samples not only for LAMP testing, but also for RT-PCR test, the release said.
The technology of ‘Chitra Magna’ has been transferred to the Agappe Diagnostics Ltd at Kochi.
The company has already taken the Chitra GeneLamp for identification of the N gene of SARS-COV-2, a potential confirmatory test with accuracy matching RT-PCR in its initial validation at National Institute of Virology by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
The test kits are now being validated in larger test samples for Indian Council of Medical Research approval, followed by commercial manufacturing license.
Last week, the institute has announced it has developed the Chitra Gene LAMP-N test kit which is highly confirmatory for the diagnosis of COVID-19 using reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid (RT-LAMP).
The test kit which is highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene can detect two regions of the gene which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread, it had said adding the ICMR approval for it was awaited.
Image source: Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST)