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Indian lab develops low-cost novel coronavirus test

Indian lab develops low-cost novel coronavirus test

Researchers at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have developed a new low-cost and low-tech required test for Sars-CoV-2 testing. This test is known as reverse transcription nested PCR (RT-nPCR) test. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended only the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction RT-qPCR test for the novel coronavirus.

The CCMB test does not require real-time quantitative RT-qPCR. It has shown  comparable performance to the standard RT-qPCR test, an official press release said. In the course of comparing the results of both tests, researchers found that the standard RT-qPCR test can have low-detection efficiency (less than 50 per cent) in a real testing scenario, which may be due to low viral representation in many samples. This finding brought home the importance of monitoring detection efficiency directly in test environments.

The RNA isolated from nasopharyngeal swab samples that had been previously tested using one of the two RT-qPCR tests was examined using RT-nPCR and the results were compared. It was found that taking both standard RT-qPCR tests together, the RT-nPCR test was able to identify 90 per cent of the detected samples as positive by RT-qPCR.

It also detected 13 per cent samples as positive among samples that were negative by the standard RT-qPCR test (likely false negatives). Based on the experimentally measured false negative rate by RT-nPCR tests from this study, it was estimated that as many as 50 per cent of positive samples may escape detection in single pass testing by RT-qPCR in an actual testing scenario.

“This new test is awaiting approval from ICMR. We might ask ICMR to use this test in those places where there are no RT-qPCR machines,” said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB..