This ‘Feluda’ Paper-Strip Test Developed by CSIR Scientists Checks for Covid-19 in Minutes

Image credits: Wikipedia Commons.

The test can be used in a way similar to pregnancy test strips widely available over the counter, and costs around Rs 500.
Last Updated: April 18, 2020, 12:11 PM IST

It’s a modern mystery that’s currently plaguing the entire world right now – are you infected with the new novel coronavirus?

The answer might now reach you in a matter of minutes, courtesy writer and film-maker Satyajit Ray’s famous fictional detective, ‘Feluda.’

A team led by two Bengali-origin scientists, Dr Souvik Maiti and Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty, at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in New Delhi, have come up with a simple ‘strip-test’ to tell you if you have COVID-19, in minutes.

And yes, its named after the Bengali sleuth.

The ‘Feluda’ is a paper-based test strip detects the new coronavirus within an hour and can now be the solution for India’s urgent need for rapid-testing.

The test uses the cutting-edge gene-editing tool- Crispr-Cas9 to target and identify the genomic sequences of the novel coronavirus in the samples of suspected individuals.

“We have been working on this tool for around two years. But, in late January, when the outbreak hit its peak in China, we began testing it to see if it can work for Covid-19. It took us around two months to come up with these results,” said Dr Debjyoti Chakraborty, told LiveMint in an earlier interview.

This testing could also reduce costs — the real-time polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) used currently requires machinery worth lakhs of rupees and its price is capped at Rs 4,500 in private labs, but the ‘Feluda’ test could cost as little as Rs 500. It can be used in a way similar to pregnancy test strips widely available over the counter, reports The Print.

“This strip will be similar to a pregnancy test strip, and will not require any specialised skill and machines to perform, as is the case with other PCR-based tests. This strip will just change colour, and can be used in a simple pathological lab. The most important part is it will be 100 per cent accurate,” CSIR Director-General Shekhar C. Mande told The Print.

While scientists in other countries like Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been testing this approach, this is the first of its kind to be developed in India.

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