The Tata Group has entered into a partnership agreement with Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, an institution of national importance, Department of Science and Technology, for commercial production of COVID-19 testing kits.
The kits will be based on Reverse Transcriptase Loop-Mediated Amplification (RT-LAMP) technology for coronavirus disease detection, which can produce results in significantly less time thereby increasing the throughput of labs in India. The tests are expected to get approval shortly and production will commence soon after.
Tata Sons tie-up with SCTIMST follows its partnership with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology to produce CRISPR based COVID test kits. These two partnerships will significantly boost Tata Sons efforts to cater to the burgeoning demand for COVID testing across the country.
The RT-LAMP is a futuristic technology that can be adapted for point-of-care setting. The ‘Chitra Gene LAMP-N’ test uses an isothermal setup to create copies of viral DNA for detection, which significantly reduces the complexity of overall process compared to the prevalent Real Time PCR technology. Additionally, the test also uses proprietary magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction, which gives highly purified and concentrated level of RNA from the swab sample.
“The Tata Group is committed to play its part in fighting the global epidemic. Testing is a crucial part of this fight against CoVID-19 as early detection and treatment arrests the spread of the infection. With more and more tests being conducted, the demand for testing kits is growing,” said Banmali Agrawala, President – Infrastructure and Defence & Aerospace, Tata Sons— the holding company of Tata Group entities.
He added that Tata Sons’ association with Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute is a significant step in its efforts to encourage indigenous production of second generation testing kits which enhances speed of testing and ease of handling.
“The mass production of RT-Lamp- based COVID-19 testing kits with the active support of the Tata Group will be a significant milestone for the Institute. I would like to commend the efforts of the research & development team of the Institute and the Tata Group in building this partnership at this critical time to serve the needs of the nation,” said Dr. V K Saraswat, Member Niti Aayog and President, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology.
“Development of a novel, inexpensive, faster, confirmatory test for the diagnosis of COVID-19 by Sree Chitra in a record time is a compelling example of how a creative team of scientists, clinicians and industry working together seamlessly can leverage knowledge and infrastructure to make relevant breakthroughs” said Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST.
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, is an Institute of National Importance, under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and has a mission to become a global leader in Research and Development of affordable medical technologies and advanced super specialty medical services.