Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

FELUDA test for Covid-19

Note4Students

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 test

  • 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.
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