NEW DELHI, May 12: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said the varsity has bagged a project on COVID-19 research from BIRAC, a public sector enterprise set up by the Department of Biotechnology.
The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has given its nod to the JNU under diagnostics category to develop a low-cost portable microfluidics embedded on chip RT-PCR and microelectrode array coupled point-of care optoelectronic device for large-scale screening of emerging viral disease like SARS-CoV-2, the VC said.
The detection of the coronavirus is being majorly done by Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) by using a real-time PCR machine, a very accurate lab test for detecting, tracking, and studying the coronavirus.
"But this technology is expensive, requires high-end laboratory-based equipment and is time consuming. Expert personnel are also needed to operate the instrument and perform the testing in the laboratory. Thus, the capacity of sample handling per day is limited," he said.
To overcome the cost and other disadvantages of the conventional methods, a team led by Dr Jaydeep Bhattacharya from the School of Biotechnology, JNU, has designed a chip-based low-cost portable spatial RT-PCR where the PCR has been integrated with the in-built detection system containing LED and diode detector he explained.
"Moreover, this portable device can also be battery operated and therefore, enabling us to perform a point-of-care measurement. The JNU has already filed an Indian Patent application on this technology. Our technology can complete the testing in about 50 minutes as compared to 120-180 minutes required for conventional real-time PCR," he added.
Citing the advantages of the technology developed by JNU, he said the small size of the machine, less time for testing, less cost, will make testing possible even in remote areas and simple training can be given to the personnel handling the device.
"Our technology is expected to cost Rs 60,000-1 lakh as compared to 10-15 lakh required for conventional real-time PCR," he said.
The varsity said it is targeting to demonstrate the first prototype testing device in about 4 months.
The team working on the device consists of scientists from JNU (Dr. Jaydeep Bhattacharya, Dr. Rupesh Chaturvedi and Dr. Ravi Tandon), Amity University, Gurgaon (Dr. Ranjita Ghosh Moulick), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Kolkata (Dr. Souvik Pal and Dr. Subrata Sarkar) and Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi (Dr. Sameer Gulati), he said. - PTI