Indigenously developed test that can identify UK COVID variant in an hour

New Delhi: Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) have claimed that their latest COVID-19 test named RAY (Rapid variant AssaY) can identify within an hour, the recently identified COVID-19 variant of the United Kingdom.

A team of researchers from CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology in Delhi and the Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research (AcSIR) in Ghaziabad collaborated and came up with this finding on Wednesday. They named it RAY in honour of veteran Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. However, a peer-review of this study is yet to be done.

Dr. Debojyoti Chakraborty, scientist at CSIR-IGIB was quoted by ThePrint as saying the virus has picked up a lot of mutation and some of them might also become resilient to immune system attacks.

There are possibilities that the variants might respond less against the vaccine developed, although such studies are still being done. So, it is important to track the variants early and effectively, he added.

Chakraborty led the work along with Dr Souvik Maiti, another scientist at CSIR-IGIB. Giving a brief understanding about RAY that is faster than genome sequencing, he said that the paper-strip based test relies on a protein called Cas-9 that can recognise and bind to a particular segment of the viral genome. If there is even a single point change in the genome segment, the protein will not bind, which will generate a negative read-out.

Explaining the test would give either a positive or negative readout within an hour at a very low cost, Chakraborty said that the FELUDA and RAY could be used together to trace the new variants of COVID-19 early.

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