From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : FELUDA, CAS9, CRISPR
Mains level : CRISPR technology
Union Health Ministry will soon roll out the FELUDA paper strip test for SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis.
Try this PYQ:
Q.What is Cas9 protein that is often mentioned in news?
(a) A molecular scissors used in targeted gene editing
(b) A biosensor used in the accurate detection of pathogens in patients
(c) A gene that makes plants pest-resistant
(d) A herbicidal substance synthesized in genetically modified crops
- FELUDA is the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.
- It uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
- According to CSIR, the test matches accuracy levels of RT-PCR tests, considered the gold standard in the diagnosis of Covid-19, has a quicker turnaround time and requires less expensive equipment.
- It is also the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.
How does it work?
- The Feluda test is similar to a pregnancy test strip that will just change colour upon detection of the virus and can be used in a simple pathological lab.
- The Cas9 protein is bar-coded to interact with the SARS-CoV2 sequence in the patient’s genetic material.
- The Cas9-SARS-CoV2 complex is then put on the paper strip, where using two lines (one control, one test) makes it possible to determine if the test sample was infected.
Back2Basics: CRISPR technology
- CRISPR is a short form for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.
- It is a gene-editing technology and finds its use in correcting genetic defects and treating and preventing the spread of diseases.
- The technology can detect specific sequences of DNA within a gene and uses an enzyme functioning as molecular scissors to snip it.
- It also allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
- Moreover, the technology can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.