Lucknow, Jun 1 : The Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology department of Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences(SGPGIMS) has developed a rapid RNA-based test that can detect COVID19 infection which will be the fastest and also the cheapest in the country. The test is a single-tube lab test which takes less than 30 minutes of laboratory time and has high specificity and sensitivity. Prof Swasti Tiwari, Head of the Department, said here on Monday that they have developed an efficient technology that can screen active COVID-19 infection at a much lower cost.
She said that they have named it “Hi- Screen test” but the real name will come after the commercialization of the technology. “The cost which we have estimated for this test was not more than Rs 100 per test however post commercialization it may go up to Rs 500 per test if we scale it up for commercial use. It will not exceed this cost” she informed me.
It may be noted that the regular RTPCR test for detecting Covid-19 costs Rs 5,000 per test The test uses the same process of RNA virus testing which is used in RTPCR technology and that is currently being used on the directions of the ICMR for the detection of Covid-19. Admitting that they cannot share the details of the technology as they were in the process of transfer of technology, she said that they can share the fact that whatever tests are available in India and abroad are not using the technology which they are using in this technique. “The technology was already available but nobody had thought that this can be used for Covid testing and we have modified it for the use of this very purpose” she added.
“The test does not require sophisticated instrumentation or any expertise for result interpretation. The data related to test development and optimization have recently been communicated for publication in a scientific journal. The technology can be made available for commercialization through proper channel, and requires ICMR approval for use in public” she said. Dr Tiwari admitted that they had filed a patent for this technology in April this year and it took them one and a half months to optimize it for Covid-19 screening.
“Last week we did all the confirmatory tests so that we could claim that Covid-19 can be tested with it. However, we have to do testing in human samples to know its sensitivity” she said. Dr Tewari said that she has already got an ethical approval for the technology but she has to get a company partner so that this can be taken to the next level where the sensitivity in the humans can be tested.
“This point-of-care test will have a direct impact on mass screening, and will especially benefit the people in screening and holding areas of various service centres such as hospitals and airports” she added. She said that the technology was ready and they were in the process of transfer of technology to companies. “ In the next week, we will get Expression of Interest from all the companies who are interested in the technology. We can go in partnership with the company through the process of getting all the regulatory approvals so that we can do human testing along with human sensitivity that has to be done before we scale up after commercialization and ICMR approval. These are the few things which the company should tale forward and it’s not our mandate but we will be handholding the company for the commercialization and getting approval from the ICMR” she added.
When asked how she got the idea of using the technology for Covid-19 testing, she said that being a part of Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology Department they have the mandate for predicting the disease at an early point. “So we were in the process of optimizing different techniques and this was one of them which we were trying to use for something different but then Covid-19 came along and we decided to use it for Covid” she said. Dr Swasti Tiwari works in the area of kidney research and has been involved in the development of technologies for placental disorders. (UNI)