In India, the drug regulatory authority- Drugs Controller General of India(DGCI) has approved low cost, paper-based test strips giving accurate test reports of Covid-19 in less than 30 minutes. It has been developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the research team of Tata Group. The team was led by Dr Debjyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maitree. The test has been named after filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s fictional detective character Feluda.
What is the Feluda Covid-19 test?
Feluda FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection is the short form of Assay. It is based on indigenous CRISPI gene-editing technology. It recognizes and targets the genetic material of the novel coronavirus. This test is as accurate as the RT-PCR test. So far, the RT-PCR test all over the world is being considered as the gold standard in the diagnosis of Covid-19. The difference is that the results of the Feluda comes quickly and the device used is very cheap. “The Feluda test has been 96% sensitive and 98% specific in identifying novel coronavirus,” CSIR said. Feluda is the world’s first diagnostic test that uses Cas9 proteins to identify viruses. The CSIR research team was working on a sickle cell mission for genome diagnostics and therapeutics and in the meantime inspired them to create such a new test kit.
What is CRISPR Technology?
CRISPR is a Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, gene-editing technology. This removes genetic defects. Used in the treatment and prevention of the spread of disease. CRISPR technology can identify the specific shrinks of DNA in genes. It changes the DNA and gene function. This technology can also be used to diagnose other diseases in the future. The US had approved the world’s first CRISPR-based test for the Covid-19 test in emergency situations in May itself. It was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
How does the Feluda Covid-19 test work?
The Feluda test is like a pregnancy test strip. If a person has the virus, its colour will change. It can also be used in the path lab. According to Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty, the Cas9 protein has been barcoded so that it can detect coronavirus sequences in the patient’s genetic material. The Cas9-SARS-CoV2 complex is then placed on the paper strip, where two lines (one control, one test) tells whether the patient is Covid-19 positive or not.
What is the cost of the Feluda Test? How to compare with other tests?
The Feluda test costs Rs.500, while the RT-PCR test is taking Rs.1,600 to Rs.2,000. The result of the antibody test comes in 20-30 minutes and costs Rs. 500 to 600. Rapid Antigen test kit gives positive or negative test reports in 30 minutes, costing Rs 450. The result of the Truenat test comes in 60 minutes and the kit price is Rs 1,300. In March, there were RT-PCR testing centres to identify only Covid-19. Later, the ICMR approved cartage-based tests such as TrueNat, CBNAAT, Abbott and Roche. Rapid Antigen Test for testing was approved in June.
Why was it named Feluda?Although FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay is the same, the name of Satyajit Ray’s famous detective character in Bengali is also the same. In an interview, Dr Debjyoti Chakraborty said that he was a big fan of Satyajit Ray and that his wife had suggested it for the first time. Product Chandra Mitter is a Bengali detective who has come to Ray’s novels and short stories many times. In novels, Feluda has made many adventures with his cousin Tapesh Ranjan Mitra. He was accompanied by a very witty Lal Mohan Babu. In the past few decades, while examining the case in different parts of the country, Feluda and his two fictional companions remained the major roles of Bengali literature. Feluda identifies as a vicious mind that is a response and soon solves any crime. That is why CSIR scientists have named the rapid Covid-19 test.
This is a cost-efficient way of testing for the Covid-19. Since you get the results in 30 mins, it is a great way to keep others around you safe. Take proper precautions if you are tested positive and if things run out of your hand, go see a doctor.