FELUDA, the Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology), received regulatory approvals from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for commercial launch.
The simple ‘strip-test’ can detect if a person has COVID-19, in minutes. FELUDA stands for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay is a joint effort of the Tata Group and CSIR-IGIB, which moved from R&D to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test in less than 100 days. As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, meeting high quality benchmarks with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus. This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
According to a release from the Ministry of Science & Technology, the FELUDA test (short for FnCas9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay) is the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing COVID-19. The release reportedly marks a significant achievement for the Indian scientific community, moving from R&D to a high-accuracy, scalable and reliable test in less than 100 days.
The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests, with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment, and better ease of use. Moreover, CRISPR is a futuristic technology that can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.
Commenting on the development, Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics said, “The approval for the Tata CRISPR test for COVID-19 will give a boost to the country’s efforts in fighting the global pandemic. The commercialisation of the Tata CRISPR test reflects the tremendous R&D talent in the country, which can collaborate to transform India’s contributions to the global healthcare and scientific research world.”
Dr Shekhar C Mande, DG-CSIR complimented the CSIR-IGIB team of scientists and students, TATA Sons and DCGI for the exemplary work and collaboration carried out during the current pandemic leading to the approval of the novel diagnostic kit and paving the path for further innovations towards making India self-reliant.
Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director CSIR-IGIB expressed delight that work started by CSIR under the sickle cell mission for genome diagnostics and therapeutics led to new knowledge that could be harnessed to quickly develop new diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2.
He emphasised that this shows the interconnectedness of scientific knowledge and technology and the innovation of the young research team led by Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty and Dr Souvik Maiti.