The Drugs Controller General of India has approved the commercial launch of 'Feluda', the Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) COVID-19 test, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said on Saturday.
This test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus, CSIR said in a statement. The Tata CRISPR test achieves accuracy levels of traditional RT-PCR tests with quicker turnaround time, less expensive equipment and better ease of use.
CRISPR is a genome editing technology to diagnose diseases. The technology has been developed by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology). "The Tata CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) test, powered by CSIR-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology) FELUDA, received regulatory approvals today from DCGI for commercial launch, as per ICMR guidelines, meeting high quality benchmarks with 96 per cent sensitivity and 98 per cent specificity for detecting novel coronavirus," the statement said.
The Tata CRISPR test is the world's first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus causing COVID-19, it said. Moreover, CRISPR is a futuristic technology that can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.
"The Tata Group has worked closely with CSIR-IGIB and ICMR to create a high-quality test that will help the nation ramp up COVID-19 testing quickly and economically, with a 'Made in India' product that is safe, reliable, affordable and accessible," the statement added. Commenting on the development, Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd 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 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," he said. Anurag Agrawal, director, CSIR-IGIB, said the 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 test 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 Debojyoti Chakraborty and Souvik Maiti.