All You Need to Know About India’s First Paper-Strip COVID Test Named After Satyajit Ray’s ‘Feluda’

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New Delhi: An indigenous paper-strip COVID-19 diagnostic test, named after one of India’s most famous fictitious detectives ‘FELUDA’, recently received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for a commercial rollout.

This test kit is developed by scientists at the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, one of the CSIR institutes, would be manufactured by Tata group company in accordance with an agreement that Tata Sons signed with the CSIR institute in May.

“It received regulatory approvals today from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for commercial launch, as per ICMR guidelines, meeting high-quality benchmarks with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus,” said a PIB press release.

The Tata CRISPR test is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially-adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing COVID-19, the statement added.

Here are the interesting facts about the testing kit FELUDA:

  • FELUDA technically is an acronym and stands for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay. And yes, it has been named after the famous fictional Bengali sleuth, Feluda, who popularly appeared in novels by author Satyajit Ray.
  • Prodosh Chandra Mitter, better known as Feluda, is a Bengali private investigator who regularly appears in novels and short stories by Ray. In the novels, Feluda would embark on several adventures with his cousin, Tapesh Ranjan Mitra, or Topshe and the very comical yet lovable, Laal Mohan Babu.
  • Feluda was also known for his shrewd mind and witty replies and of course, his ability to solve crime quickly. Perhaps that is why the CSIR scientists decided to name the rapid COVID-19 test after him.
  • The test was originally developed for sickle cell disease. When the pandemic struck, the scientists decided to repurpose the technology for COVID-19.
  • Though it is a paper-strip test, it’s not as easy as the pregnancy test as a basic laboratory set up is needed. It works with both saliva and blood samples, but the scientists prefer saliva as it’s easy to collect. The indigenous test identifies the unique genetic material of the novel coronavirus to give a positive result.
  • In the laboratory setting, one test used to cost Rs 500-600, which would change at the commercial level. The test takes about an hour out of which nearly 45 minutes are needed for sample preparations.

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