The launch of India’s first indigenous, paper-based, Covid-19 testing kit, Feluda has been approved for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). How does it work? What about its availability and cost? Will it be a gamechanger? Let’s find out.
Crux of the Matter
What Is Feluda?
Feluda, an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay, is a paper-based test strip to identify the presence of Coronavirus in a sample. The name gets its inspiration from the famous Bengali fictional detective character, Feluda penned by Satyajit Ray.
It was developed by the TATA group and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), New Delhi by Dr. Souvik Maiti, and Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty.
What Is The Test Based On?
This indigenous test is based on CRISPR or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, a gene editing technology. It is used in correcting genetic defects and preventing the spread of diseases, by detecting all the pathogens responsible for them.
This is because it can detect specific sequences of DNA within a gene and use an enzyme functioning as ‘molecular scissors‘ to snip it. The US had approved the emergency-use of the world’s first CRISPR-based test for Covid-19, developed by MIT and Harvard, earlier this year, in May.
What About FNCAS9?
It is a protein used by researchers to edit our DNA and is derived from a bacterium, Francisella novicida. In Feluda test, FNCAS9 has been coded to interact with SARS-COV-2, which makes detection and confirmation speedy.
So How Will Feluda Know?
Similar to a pregnancy detection test, Feluda paper kit will change colours, if a positive diagnosis is identified. It shall carry two lines on the kit – one control and a test line to interpret results.
What About Its Accuracy?
As per the Ministry of Science and Technology, Feluda has 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity for detecting Covid-19. Test sensitivity is the ability of the test to correctly identify those with the SARS-COV-2 virus (true positive rate), whereas test specificity is the ability of the test to correctly identify those without the virus (true negative rate).
To know more, check out this piece.
Positive Step For India
The commercialization of Feluda would be an important step for us as it would be a “Made in India” initiative, that would highlight the increasing R&D talent in the country.
Girish Krishnamurthy, CEO, TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd, said, “We can then collaborate and contribute to the global healthcare and scientific research world.”
- Feludar Goendagiri is a short story written by Satyajit Ray featuring Feluda. It was the very first among the total 35 complete stories/novels of the Feluda series.
- The Apu Trilogy comprises three Indian Bengali language films directed by Satyajit Ray. They are frequently listed among the greatest films of all time and are often cited as the greatest films in the history of Indian cinema.
- Sandesh is a Bengali children’s magazine. It was first published by Upendrakishore Ray in 1913. In 1961, the magazine was revived under the editorialship of Satyajit Ray. Ray introduced Feluda in short stories he wrote for Sandesh.