Kerala

Kerala firm rolls out indigenous RT-PCR test kits

A health worker holds swab samples for COVID-19 Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test. File.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A Kerala-based company, TCM Ltd, has rolled out on a commercial scale ‘Covi-DetecT’, its brand of RT-PCR test kits based on technology developed by IIT Delhi.

TCM Ltd, which was a chemical company until recently, was among the six firms chosen by IIT Delhi to commercialise its technology. Announcing the development, Joseph Varghese, Managing Director of TCM Ltd, said that the company’s unit at Kinfra Biotechnology and Industrial Zone in Kochi has reached a capacity for 100 kits translating into 10,000 tests daily, which will be further augmented in a week’s time to roll out 500 kits (50,000 tests) per day.

He said that at present, Kerala is entirely dependent on supply of test kits from other States and it takes anywhere between 48 to 72 hours, sometimes even more time, for the kits to reach the State through a dry-ice packed journey. “In such cases, chances of quality deterioration are comparatively higher as against our capability to deliver the Kerala-made kits within 4 to 5 hours anywhere across the State. COVID 19 (RT-PCR) test kits are to be kept under minus 20° Celsius at all times and any variation will affect quality. Also, local labs are not required to stock the test kits in big quantities now, as they are made in their vicinity. There will be price advantages too,” he said.

“We are ready to sell Covi-DetecT to the government at near-cost prices and join the bandwagon to fight the dreaded disease,” he said.

Manju Abraham, Chief Scientific Officer of TCM Healthcare Pvt Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary of TCM Ltd, said the RT-PCR assay developed by IIT-Delhi is by far the surest method available in India as it identifies the presence of the virus by analysing the RNA coding for spike glycoprotein, which is a protein expressed on the viral surface. “The biggest advantage of our test kit is that it also checks a human gene [GAPDH] along with the viral gene in the test and thus identifies any sample insufficiency which could have occurred due to improper sample collection, sample transport or RNA isolation,” she said.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 9:38:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-firm-rolls-out-indigenous-rt-pcr-test-kits/article32910181.ece

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