IIT-Hyderabad researchers develop low-cost test kit that can detect COVID-19 within 20 minutes

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Updated: Jun 06, 2020 6:49 PM

The researchers claimed that the alternative test method is not based on the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) -- the method currently being used for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19, IIT-Hyderabad researchers, covid 19 test kits, COVID-19 testing, ICMR, coronavirus, latest news on coronavirus outbreakThe test kit has been developed at a cost of Rs 550 and it can be reduced to up to Rs 350 when taken to mass production, they said. (Representational image: PTI)

A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad claims to have developed a first-of-its kind COVID-19 test kit that can deliver results within 20 minutes. The researchers claimed that the alternative test method is not based on the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) — the method currently being used for COVID-19 testing.

The test kit has been developed at a cost of Rs 550 and it can be reduced to up to Rs 350 when taken to mass production, they said. While a patent has been filed for the test kit, the team has conducted clinical trials at ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Hyderabad and sought an approval from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

“We have developed a COVID-19 testing kit which can deliver the results in 20 minutes for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The uniqueness of this test kit is that it functions sans the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR),” Shiv Govind Singh, the professor at IIT-Hyderabad’s Electrical Engineering department, told PTI.

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“The low-cost test kit is easy to carry around and tests can be done at point of care. The testing method used is an alternative to the currently used method. We identified a unique sequence of conserved regions of COVID-19 genome,” Singh, who led the three-member team, said.

IIT-Hyderabad is the second academic institution in the country to come up with a testing kit for novel coronavirus. IIT-Delhi became the first academic institute to have obtained the ICMR approval for a real-time PCR-based diagnostic assay.

It had claimed that the current testing methods available were “probe-based” while the one developed by its students was a “probe-free” method, which reduces the testing cost without compromising on accuracy.

India on Saturday went past Italy to become the sixth worst-hit nation by COVID-19, with the country registering a record single-day spike of 9,887 cases which pushed the nationwide tally to 2,36,657. The country’s death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 6,642, with a record increase of 294 deaths in the last 24 hours till Saturday 8 am.

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