In a development that could help strengthen the fight against COVID-19, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)’s Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has transferred the know-how for a technique developed by its scientists for testing of samples from suspected coronavirus patients.
The new test promises to be simple, fast, cost-effective, patient-friendly, and comfortable, even as it is based on the standard RT-PCR technology. According to the scientists, it will provide test results under just three hours and is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, as it required minimal infrastructure.
The know-how has been transferred to the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), on a non-exclusive basis. This would enable the innovation to be commercialized and licensed to all capable parties in the private and government sectors.
The technique is non-invasive and is very simple. The patient has to just gargle with a solution developed by the scientists and rinse it inside a tube filled with saline solution. This sample in the collection tube will be then taken to the laboratory, where it will be kept in a special buffer solution at room temperature. An RNA template will be produced when this solution is heated, and this will be further processed for the RT-PCR test.
“The new method of collecting and processing the sample enables savings on the otherwise costly infrastructural requirement of RNA extraction. People can also test themselves. The method allows for self-sampling”, explained Dr. Krishna Khairnar, the principal inventor of the `Saline Gargle RT-PCR technology’.
The licensees would set up manufacturing facilities for commercial production in the form of easily usable compact kits. CSIR-NEERI had fast-tracked the know-how transfer process in the light of the prevailing pandemic situation and probable third wave of COVID-19.
The ceremonial transfer of the Standard Operating Procedure and Know-How of the Saline Gargle RT-PCR technique was done in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said: “The Saline Gargle RT-PCR method needs implementation across the nation, especially in resource-poor regions like rural and tribal areas. This would result in faster and more citizen-friendly testing and will strengthen our fight against the pandemic”.
Director of CSIR-NEERI, Dr. Srivari Chandrasekhar, Chairman of Technology Transfer, CSIR-NEERI, Dr. Atul Vaidya, and Dr. Krishna Khairnar, were also present on the occasion.