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20th November 2020  Editorial by: Paul Carton

CRISPR Dipstick Test for COVID-19 Diagnosis is Rolled Out

A simple and affordable CRISPR-based SARS-CoV-2 test which shows results on a paper dipstick and has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will be distributed to testing labs across the country this week. 

The Feluda test— an acronym for FNCAS9 Editor-Limited Uniform Detection Assay was created at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s constituent lab, the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in New Delhi and is available from the Tata Group.

The test demonstrated a 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity in a study involving more than 2000 patients at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). This compares favourably to ICMR's current acceptation criteria of RT-PCR kit of at least 95% sensitivity and around 99% specificity.

Once a swab sample is taken from a patient, a one-step extraction and reverse transcription is performed, and amplification is done using a thermal cycler; making it suitable for mobile labs. 

The test utilizes a specially adapted Cas9 protein, derived from Francisella novicida bacteria, to successfully detect the virus. A combination of CRISPR biology and paper-strip chemistry leads to a visible signal readout on a paper strip that can be rapidly assessed for establishing the presence of viral infection in a sample.

The ICMR advises that specimen collection and transfer of sample for CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 test must be performed using appropriate PPE.

The price of the test is reported to be one-fifth of RT-PCR tests. 



Date Published: 20th November 2020

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