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IISc develops substitute for Covid test RT-PCR, positioned for resource limited settings

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Friday, March 17, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru has developed a substitute method of Covid testing that can be deployed in regions which face a resource crunch. The researchers of the department of chemical engineering have now a device known as the quantitative end point RPA (qeRPA). The preference is for Recombinant Polymerase Amplification (RPA), an alternative method of testing, where reactions are monitored at room temperature also does not require a thermal cycler.

At present, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase (RT-PCR) test is one of the speedy and highly precise ways to diagnose the Covid virus. In fact, it is the most extensively used globally. However, the test has many drawbacks. The most common among is the real-time monitoring and the need for a thermal cycler.

RTPCR requires certain reactions to take place at different temperature which is why a thermal recycler is used. The cycler is used to main the certain temperature according to the reactions that need to take place. For now real time monitoring helps to detect the severity of the infection as well as it helps in delivering the results faster than other conventional tests. However, both the features of the quantitative RT-PCR tests mean that very specific conditions and equipment need to be present for accurate testing.

The researchers Priyanka Valloly and Rahul Roy, representing the department of chemical engineering, have found a way to eliminate the need for both these prerequisites in Covid testing. The researchers developed the quantitative end point RPA. The preference is for Recombinant Polymerase Amplification, an alternative method of testing, where reactions are monitored at room temperature. This removes the need of a cycler.

For the moment, the research team developed a model for RPA testing that provides consistent results with those done through real-time RT-PCR, without needing to make use of real-time monitoring. When tested, the researchers found that both the testing using the quantitative end point Recombinant Polymerase Amplification had consistent results. Though the results of quantitative end point Recombinant Polymerase Amplification removed the need for a thermal cycler, the researchers also found real-time monitoring while ensuring that testing could be done just as accurately.

The results from quantitative end point Recombinant Polymerase Amplification were consistent with the results obtained from RT-PCR while being faster and easier to implement. Therefore the team hopes that this method could be used to detect nuclei acids like DNA or RNA at diagnostic centres such as in resource limited regions such as remote villages and in the developing countries making diagnostic tests easy to perform and more accessible to ensure treatment can be give at a faster pace.

 
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