IIT Delhi Signs an MOU with Wells Fargo International Solutions Private Limited for Development of an affordable & user friendly Covid-19 testing Kit

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Dr. Prangya P. Tripathy, PhD, Neucrad Health Desk, July 28, 2020

With the emergence of Covid 19 in India and worldwide, now emphasis is given on mass screening, testing and retesting. With total cases of 14,84,136 and total death count of 33,461 (as of 28.07.2020), in India, emphasis is given now to trigger the testing process. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) facilitated 1000 Covid-19 testing labs in INDIA. There are 730 government labs and 270 private labs for the testing as per ICMR. As the testing, tracking and treating is the only way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection and save lives, it is essential that testing should be made widely available to all symptomatic patients at each part of the country, assured ICMR. Although, initially India was dependent on importing of Covid-19 test kits but now due to global demand and to avoid shortage of the test kits, various private and government labs started preparing testing kits. Simultaneously, early preparation of diagnostic kits, tested with accuracy and low cost is the need of the hour. In this connection, IIT Delhi is working on a peptide based ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) tests for Covid-19 detection.

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Development of peptide based ELISA tests for Covid-19 Detection

Wells Fargo International Solutions Private Limited and United Way of Bengaluru (UWBe), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for development of a peptide-based ELISA (Enzyme linked Immunosorbent Assay) test for the detection of Covid-19 antibodies, a bold step to fight against coronavirus. Wells Fargo will fund the project and UWBe will facilitate its implementation. This is a collaborative research project between IIT Delhi and National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, explained by Anurag S Rathore, Dean, Corporate Relations & Professor, Chemical Engineering Department at IIT Delhi. It will help to simplify the test procedure as it is a home-based, affordable solution. IIT Delhi research team will be working on the peptide-based ELISA test project from its idea incubation to implementation stage. The proof of concept is expected by end of 2020, and the kits could be in market by March 2021.

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Understanding the Research Involved

This research aims at developing a peptide-based, ELISA diagnostic, serological assay against Covid-19. It will utilize the microplate-based enzyme immune-assay technique. The antigen which is preferably a peptide that will be computationally identified. Then structural analysis of the available complex will be performed for designing of the novel peptide(s). This novel peptide(s) will be matched with a complementary property with spike protein of Covid-19. In fact a set of peptides will be designed initially using a combinatorial approach to test their finding. From the sequences of the variable regions of the Heavy and Light chain including the novel designed peptide, cloning of the mAb (monoclonal antibody) fragment (CV-Fab) (CV for Cloning Vector and Fab stands for Antigen binding fragment) will be performed. ELISA based testing kits will be created once CV-Fab will be produced.

This ELISA based method determines whether a person possesses antibodies for Covid-19 or not in the blood. Scientists hope that the test results can help the medical personnel to fight the pandemic in many ways including seroprevalence study.

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