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Tata firm, CSIR lab develop Feluda, world’s first CRISPR based COVID-19 test kit

India’s efforts against COVID-19 saw a major fillip when the regulator, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave permission for the commercial launch of India's first Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) COVID-19 test on September 19. The test is names “Feluda'.

This was developed by the Tata Medical and Diagnostics Limited in a collaboration with India’s leading genomics research institution, the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB). According to the company the test meets high-quality benchmarks with a 96-percent sensitivity and specificity of 98 percent in the detection of the disease in a person's body.g

Two young researchers, Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty and Dr Souvik Maiti from CISR-IGIB have played a key role in the kit development. Dr Chakraborty had highlighted the immense potential of CRISPR in many cutting edge applications at a special session on CRISPR at ABLE’s BioEconomy Conclave in March 2018. Two co-inventors of CRISPR technology in Germany ( Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier) and USA ( Dr Jennifer A Doudna) have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

Dr Shekhar C Mande, DG-CSIR complimented the CSIR-IGIB team of scientists and students, TATA Sons and DCGI for the exemplary work and collaboration carried out during the current pandemic leading to the approval of the novel diagnostic kit and paving the path for further innovations towards making India self-reliant

This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus. CRISPR is a genome editing technology to diagnosing diseases.

The Tata CRISPR test is also claimed to be the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing Covid-19. This marks a significant achievement for the Indian scientific community, moving from R&D to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test in less than 100 days.

The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests, with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use. This is a significant development considering that CRISPR is a futuristic technology that can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.

This effort is also the result of a fruitful collaboration between the scientific community and industry. The Tata Group has worked closely with CSIR-IGIB and ICMR to create a high-quality test that will help the nation ramp up Covid-19 testing quickly and economically, with a ‘Made in India’ product that is safe, reliable, affordable, and accessible.

Commenting on the development, Mr Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd, said, “The approval for the Tata CRISPR test for COVID-19 will give a boost to the country’s efforts in fighting the global pandemic. The commercialization of the Tata CRISPR test reflects the tremendous R&D talent in the country, which can collaborate to transform India’s contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world.”.

Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director CSIR-IGIB expressed delight that work started by CSIR under the sickle cell mission for genome diagnostics and therapeutics led to new knowledge that could be harnessed to quickly develop new diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2. He emphasized that this shows the interconnectedness of scientific knowledge and technology and the innovation of the young research team led by Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty and Dr Souvik Maiti.

India’s efforts against COVID-19 saw a major fillip when the regulator, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave permission for the commercial launch of India's first Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) COVID-19 test on September 19. The test is names “Feluda'.

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