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article imageCRISPR-based COVID-19 test can produce results in one hour

By Tim Sandle     Oct 11, 2020 in Science
Scientists in India have constructed a paper-based coronavirus test which can produce results in around one hour. The test only costs $7.00. At the basis of the technology is CRISPR gene editing.
The new paper-based test kit is based on gene editing technology. Initial results show the test to have 96% percent sensitivity (to avoid false negatives) and 98 percent specificity (to avoid false positives). these relatively precise assay levels mean that the tst kit should be able to differentiate between any person who has a SARS-CoV-2 infection and those who do not. The accuracy of the method is equivalent to a the more established polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. The advanatges are a faster turnaround time, minimal equipment, lower costs, and in a form that is far easier to use.
As reported by the BBC, the test is termed Feluda, which is the name of a popular Indian detective character. the developer is the company Tata together with researchers from the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.
At the heart of the development is CRISPR technology. This is an acronym for ‘clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats. As Digital Journal reported (see the article: "Is CRISPR technology set to change biological science?”) the technology is a form of biological cut-and-paste molecular scissors. The editing technology was advanced by Dr. Jennifer Doudna. Dr. Doudna discovered the use of an enzymatic protein called Cas9 which could advance the editing approach.
Sampling for the test is by nasal swab (salivia testing is not permitted in India). In terms of how the test works, essentially chemicals latch on to a set of letters of a gene carrying the signature of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, highlights it, and gives a read-out on a piece of paper. The result appears as a color-based reaction.
Commenting on the test, one of the research scientists, K Vijay Raghavan, notes: “This is a simple, precise, reliable, scalable, and frugal test...This strip will be similar to a pregnancy test strip and will not require any specialized skill and machines to perform."
the test kit works by changing color and it can be used in a simple pathological laboratory.
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