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IGIB scientists develop rapid and sensitive test for COVID detection

Scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology have developed a rapid and sensitive method to detect coronavirus infection in 30 minutes using a mass spectrometer.

In the study by the scientists of IGIB, an institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the rapid test method can detect two peptides, QIAPGQTGK and AIVSTIQRKYK, from structural spike glycoprotein and replicase polyprotein with a sensitivity of 90 per cent and specificity of 100 per cent.

This method involves direct detection of the viral peptides, a compound consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain.

“The method developed is safe since swab sample can be collected in tube containing detergent, which immediately kills the virus,” said Shantanu Sengupta, one of the scientists who authored the paper which has been published in the Journal of Proteins and Proteomics.

The samples for the study were provided by National Centre for Disease Control, while Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT Delhi) was involved in computational work, Sengupta said.

Mass spectrometry, the equipment used for diagnostics in this method is an analytical tool useful for measuring the mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of one or more molecules present in a sample.

“All other methods require hybridisation and/or amplification which can potentially result in a few false negative results. The test will be rapid since the time from sample to results is about 30 minutes,” Sengupta said.

In the RT-PCR tests, the RNA is converted to DNA using enzymes.

Further primers and probes are used to amplify the DNA and detect viral nucleic acid presence.

Sengupta added that the mass spectrometer based test can be used at places like airports.

IGIB director Anurag Agarwal said the institute will now approach the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for introducing this test. – PTI