From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RT-PCR, LAMP
Mains level : COVID testing issues
Indian Council of Medical Research has recently validated the LAMP technology for COVID-19 testing.
What is RT-LAMP?
- RT-LAMP stands for Reverse Transcriptase loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technology.
- Agappe Diagnostics has recently developed the technology indigenously, and their kit has been validated and approved by the ICMR for marketing.
- It is named LUME Screen nCoV.
How does it work?
- RT-LAMP technology is a one-step nucleic acid amplification method to multiply specific sequences of RNA of the coronavirus.
- The RNA is first made into cDNA (copy DNA) by the usual reverse transcription. Then, the DNA is amplified by the LAMP technique.
- •The current method diagnosis is the real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test which detects the presence of viral nucleic acids in nasopharyngeal swab samples.
- But it has certain shortcomings.
- The test requires complex and costly equipment. It requires extensive training for potential users.
Benefits of LAMP over RT-PCR
- The LAMP technology is superior to the PCR technology–based COVID-19 kits where specificity is around 95% only.
- As the specificity and sensitivity of the test is about 95%, there is a possibility of false negative results.
- The turnaround time is about 10 hours, so that the result will be available only by the next day.
- In remote places, the turnaround time further increases depending on the distance the samples need to travel.
- In short, the RT-PCR does not have the capacity to keep pace with the increasing demand.
- The LAMP technology does not need laborious preparation as in the case of RT-PCR. LAMP is cost effective and does not need complex expensive equipment.