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FELUDA: First Gene based COVID-19 test approved in India

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has recently approved the gene-based COVID-19 test called Feluda. The test was indigenously developed and uses cutting edge CRISPR gene editing technology to detect the COVID-19 virus.

The test was developed by scientists based in Council of scientific and Industrial Research Institute of genomics and integrative Biology CSIR-IDIB along with the TATA Group.

About the test
The test will diagnose the virus in 2 hours. It is the first test in the world to deploy Cas9 protein to detect the virus. The test has 96 % of sensitivity and 98 % of specificity to detect the novel coronavirus. The cost of the test is estimated to be less than rupees 600. The test works well under laboratory conditions and is essential to validate under clinical setting. It validates faster cheaper and accurate disease diagnosis for a range of diseases other than COVID-19. The FELUDA test has been developed under make in India initiative.

FELUDA is the acronym of FNCAS9 editor linked uniform detection. It is a paper strip test

COVID-19 tests in India
In India the following COVID-19 tests have been approved

It is Reverse transcription polymerases chain reaction. In this test, copies of DNA are created using the enzyme called Polymerase. The Reverse Transcription technique converts RNA into DNA. This is because COVID-19 virus is made of RNA.

Rapid Antigen Detection Test
The test is conducted on swapped nasal samples. It detects antigen that are found within the COVID-19 virus. Antigens are Foreign substances that induce immune response of the body.

ELISA Antibody tests
The ELISA antibody test kits are called COVID KAVACH ELISA and were developed at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. ELISA is Enzymes Linked Immunoabsorbent Assay. It measures antibodies in the blood. It was earlier used to diagnose HIV, Zika virus, etc. It was also used in nationwide sero survey conducted by the Ministry of Health.

Till today, the RT-PCR tests are in the front line for clinical diagnosis in India. However, the anti-body tests are conducted for surveillance and for clear understanding of the proportion of the population exposed to COVID-19.

Rapid Antibody Test
This test is conducted on samples of mucus and saliva received from COVID-19 patients. It provides the results in 24 to 48 hours. These tests are also called serological tests.

Saliva Direct Tests
The test detects the nucleic acid from the COVID-19 virus. It is not a rapid test. It has to be done in certified clinical laboratories. The test received increased attention as compared to other tests as it is easy to detect, fewer steps in testing and collection of samples, and easy instrument accessibility.

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