In its third week of coronavirus lockdown, India has been grappling with several constraints – including a shortage of protective masks, hand sanitisers, and testing kits – as the many measures to contain the pandemic continue in full swing.
To aid the government in enforcing strict social distancing while strengthening the healthcare infrastructure of the country, several women-led startups, self-help groups, and research bodies have come forward with unique solutions.
Among them are Banaras Hindu University’s women researchers, who have come up with a low-cost testing method for coronavirus patients. This team of women scientists, at the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, have developed a novel testing method that allows rapid detection of COVID-19 with 100 percent accuracy, reports claimed.
"Through this low-cost method, the results would be available within a few hours. We have got this method patented and approached the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for further guidance and support in the matter so that it can be taken to the masses," said Associate Professor Geeta Rai, who is leading the research team comprising three of her students – Doli Das, Khusbu Priya, and Hiral Thacker.
Usually, most coronavirus testing kits require a period of 24 hours for accurate detection. But according to Geeta, the testing method developed by her team, based on RT PCR (Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction), can provide results in a matter of four to six hours. Furthermore, the technology is reported to be cost-effective, requiring no probe or cost-heavy machines.
“We have identified a part of COVID-19’s genetic sequence, which is unique to this virus only. And based on Reverse Transcriptase we have synthesised some primers which target only this region of the virus,” the BHU scientist was quoted.
A ray of hope in the midst of a deadly outbreak, this solution, comes right after Pune-based virologist Minal Dakhave came up with India’s first domestically manufactured COVID-19 test kit.
Minal, who is the Head of R&D (Research and Development) Lab at biotechnology startup MyLab Discovery Solutions, developed the game-changing testing kit – called PathoDetect – on the heels of a complicated pregnancy, delivering (possibly) her greatest work to date, and serving bucketloads of inspiration to women working around this crisis across the world.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)