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IISc startup Equine Biotech develops affordable COVID-19 diagnostic kit, gets ICMR nod

The test takes about one and half hours to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in patient samples, said founder of Equine Biotech, a faculty member of the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.

September 26, 2020 / 06:57 PM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

The GlobalTM diagnostic kit, developed by Bengaluru-based Equine Biotech, got approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to join the list of made-in-India diagnostic test kits for Covid-19.

The test takes about one and half hours to confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 pathogen in patient samples, Utpal Tatu, the founder of Equine Biotech and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru told LiveMint. The kit uses the Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method of testing.

"Our startup has been working on testing for coronavirus infections for many years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. This experience has helped us engineer the kit for COVID-19," said Tatu. The makers further stressed that their kit is far more economical and reliable than the ones in the market.

This "sensitive, rapid, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostic kit" is easy to use with 100 percent specificity, meaning there are no false negatives, according to the start-up. The test kit shows results relatively faster than those available in the market, IISc said in a statement.

"Equine Biotech is looking to licence the above kit for large scale manufacturing and sale," the statement added. "The agreement would involve tech transfer and support in manufacturing of kits. We are looking at med-tech companies with experience in distribution and marketing of diagnostic kits," it further added.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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A record 14,92,409 tests were conducted for detection of COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours, taking the total tests done so far in the country to nearly 7 crore, while the national cumulative positivity rate stands at 8.44 percent, the Union Health Ministry said on September 25.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Sep 26, 2020 06:57 pm

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