Thiruvananthapuram: Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology here has developed a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit for PCR and LAMP tests for COVID-19, and has also applied for a patent.
A press release from the Institute said, “SARS-COV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19 pandemic is an RNA virus. RNA is a long single-stranded polymeric substance present in all living cells including RNA viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and carries the genetic information of the organism necessary for life.
“One of the critical steps in detecting this virus is by confirming the presence of the RNA of the virus in the sample taken from the throat or nose. The sample collected is transported under specified conditions in a viral transport medium to the testing laboratory,” it said.
In the lab, the RNA of SARS-CoV-2 is extracted, converted into DNA and amplified using the PCR technique or LAMP technique. The presence of detectable levels of a specific DNA segment is the confirmation of COVID-19 infection.
“Chitra Magna, an innovative RNA extraction kit has been developed by Sree Chitra Institute as an innovative technology for isolating RNA from swabs. This protocol uses magnetic nanoparticle to capture and concentrate the RNA from the patient sample,” the press release said.
“This is a significant advantage because even if some viral RNA disintegrates during storage and transportation of the patient samples, all of it is captured by the magnetic bead-based extraction technology. The magnetic nanoparticle beads bind to the viral RNA and when exposed to a magnetic field gives a highly purified and concentrated level of RNA.
“As the yield of PCR or LAMP test is dependent on getting an adequate quantity of viral RNA, this innovation enhances the chances of identifying positive cases. The Institute has filed for a patent for this technology which is simpler than in imported kits,” it said.
The press release further said that Chitra Magna can be used to extract high purity RNA from patient samples not only for LAMP testing but also for RT-PCR test.
The first step of isolating high quality and high concentration of RNA without degradation is critical to the outcome of the PCR or LAMP test. Barring a few Indian manufactures, the majority of RNA isolation kits are imported, and its non-availability often becomes a severe bottleneck for RT-PCR testing in large numbers across the country.
The technology of Chitra Magna has been transferred to the Agappe Diagnostics Ltd Ernakulam. The company has already taken the Chitra GeneLAMP-N technology which usesRT LAMP for identification of the N gene of SARS-COV-2.
It is a potential confirmatory test with accuracy matching RT-PCR in its initial validation at NIV by ICMR. The test kits are now being validated in larger test samples for ICMR approval, followed by commercial manufacturing license from DCGI.
Sree Chitra is an ‘Institute of National Importance’ under the Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India.