Indian scientists make RT-PCR simpler, cheaper and faster | India News

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MUMBAI: For giving the swab sample for RT-PCR, you may not have to queue up for a long and also wait for a longer time for test results to come. Indian scientists have made taking swab samples and extracting of RNA for RT-PCR very simple, cheaper and faster.
The scientists with the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) under Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have achieved a new milestone in their ongoing covid-related researches.
They have developed a ‘Saline Gargle RT-PCR Method’ for testing COVID-19 samples which is quicker and cheaper. The method offers a bunch of attractive benefits, all rolled into one. It is simple, fast, cost-effective, patient-friendly and comfortable; it also offers instant results and is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, given minimal infrastructure requirements. The ICMR has given a go-ahead to NEERI asking their teams to train laboratories for the same.
The Saline Gargle RT-PCR method uses a simple collection tube filled with saline solution. The patient gargles the solution and rinses it inside the tube. This sample in the collection tube is then taken to the laboratory where it is kept at room temperature, in a special buffer solution prepared by NEERI. An RNA template is produced when this solution is heated, which is further processed for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
“This particular method of collecting and processing the sample enables us to save on the otherwise costly infrastructural requirement of RNA extraction. People can also test themselves, since this method allows self-sampling. It requires no queuing up or crowding at the testing centres thus saving lot of time and risk of infections. Even the waste generation stands minimized in this method,” reveals Dr. Krishna Khairnar, Senior Scientist, Environmental Virology Cell, NEERI while talking to a government news agency.
“Swab collection method requires time. Moreover, since it is an invasive technique, it is a bit uncomfortable for patients. Some time is lost also in the transport of the sample to the collection centre. On the other hand, the Saline Gargle RT-PCR method is instant, comfortable and patient-friendly. Sampling is done instantly and results will be generated within 3 hours.” he claims pointing out that ICMR had given its approval to the invention and has asked NEERI to train laboratories on it.
The method is non-invasive and so simple that the patient him/herself can collect the sample. Collection methods like nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collection require technical expertise and are time consuming and thus can be avoided by adopting this new system. The method is environment-friendly as well, since waste generation is minimized.
The scientist expects that this innovative testing technique will be especially beneficial for rural and tribal areas where infrastructure requirements can be a constraint. The non-technique has received the approval of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). NEERI has further been asked to train other testing labs, to help scale up its adoption across the country.
Nagpur Municipal Corporation has given permission to go ahead with the method, following which testing has begun at NEERI, as per approved testing protocol. Scientists, researchers and lab-technicians of the Environmental Virology Cell at NEERI have taken painstaking efforts to develop this patient-friendly technique amid surging COVID-19 infections in the Vidarbha region. Dr. Khairnar and his team hopes that the method is implemented at the national level, resulting in faster and more citizen-friendly testing, thereby strengthening our battle against the pandemic



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