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IIT-G�s Viral Transport Media kits to fight COVID-19 launched

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 17 - Minister of Finance and Health & Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma today launched Viral Transport Media (VTM) kits developed by the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G).

The VTM kits, along with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kits and RNA isolation kits, have been developed at IIT Guwahati jointly with RR Animal Healthcare Ltd, with inputs from GMCH.

�Assam has been successfully leading the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and our initiatives have gone a long way in containing this disease in the entire North East. We want to identify and contain this disease at an early stage and it is vital that we have all the crucial kits and materials so that our frontline healthcare workers and doctors who are doing a commendable job do not face any hurdles. We are very happy with this product development and launch of the VTM and other COVID-19-related kits in IIT Guwahati and I congratulate the Director of IIT Guwahati and the faculty members for this development as well as acknowledge other help being provided to us,� Sarma said.

Due to the huge demand for these kits and the high price associated in their timely procurement, the National Health Mission (NHM) Assam had approached IIT-G for their development and procurement.

The requested kits were already in development stage and on knowing about the immediate requirement of these kits, the research teams led by Prof Siddhartha Sankar Ghosh and Prof Parameswar Krishnan Iyer from the IIT-G, along with Dr Labanyamoy Kole of RR Animal Health Care Ltd, developed these kits as per standards laid down by the GMCH.

They have already delivered 950 VTM kits which have been tested and validated.

The VTM kits are the first stop source used to collect nasal and oral swab specimens from individual source and take to the laboratory safely for culture and testing. During this period the virus, if present in the sample specimens, should remain intact until the testing procedure is completed.

The complete package is suitable for the collection, transport, maintenance and long-term freezer storage of viral specimens.

The unique formulation of the transport medium helps in preserving the viability of viruses for up to 72 hours at refrigerated temperatures. The swabs have been designed ergonomically with a pre-moulded breakpoint on their shaft for enabling secure sampling.

These sterile SPILD VTM kits comply with the CDC-recommended configurations for viral specimen collection for COVID-19 and are packed in user-friendly individual packs.

In addition, the institute has also developed SPILD RNA isolation kits and SPILD RT-PCR kits jointly with RR Animal Healthcare Ltd which are needed to safely isolate the RNA from COVID-19 virus. The purified RNA are then converted to DNA by an enzyme reverse transcriptase, which is utilised to confirm the presence or absence of COVID-19.

Large-scale production of all these kits has commenced to meet the requirement in Assam.

Talking about the development of these kits, Prof Iyer, who works in IIT-G�s Department of Chemistry and Centre for Nanotechnology, said, �This collaboration of academia with industry and the timely development of these high quality sterile kits as requested by the State government will immensely help in conducting large-scale testing and identification of COVID-19 cases and prevent the spread of this pandemic.�

Prof Ghosh of the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and Centre for Nanotechnology, said that quality of the kits is comparable to the best in the world.

Dr Kole, who is head of research and development, RR Animal Healthcare Ltd, said, �This process of COVID-19-related kit development with IIT Guwahati has been a very good prospect to serve people in a timely manner and deliver important healthcare products.�

RR Animal Health Care Ltd is a research-oriented Indian MNC based at the Research Park of IIT Guwahati. Its major areas of focus are animal and human healthcare specialities.

Principal Secretary Samir Kumar Sinha; Dr Achyut Chandra Baishya, Principal cum Chief Superintendent of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH); Dr Pankaj Choudhary, Technical Manager of RR Animal Health Care Ltd, among others, were present during the event that took place at the Janata Bhawan.

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