Starting within a week to 10 days, the new FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay or Feluda paper strip test will be incorporated for COVID-19 testing in the national capital, according to officials.
The Feluda test has been India’s first Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) based coronavirus test created at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), a constituent lab of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
The test uses an indigenously developed, cutting-edge CRISPR technology for detection of the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test deploys a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus. A combination of the CRISPR biology and paper-strip chemistry leads to a visible signal readout on a paper strip that can be rapidly assessed for establishing the presence of the viral infection in a sample.
The Feluda paper strip test is also done in a lab and a nasopharyngeal swab will be used to conduct the test, just like the RT PCR test.
The test will increase the testing capacity, but it will not replace the RT-PCR test, which is the gold standard of testing, the officials said. The Feluda test gives results within one hour, which is much faster than the RT-PCR test.
On October 22, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had issued an advisory for the use of Feluda paper strip test.
“The government is yet to procure the Feluda paper strip test kits from TATA group or the ICMR, but we expect to do it within a week and also conduct training for the people using the kits,” the official added.
The government has also gone ahead with the training of personnel for COVID-19 vaccination drive to be conducted, once it is available.