Updated on 5 June 2012
The new kit, the technology for which has been developed by DRDE, is being commercialized by RAS Lifesciences
Since the pandemic after the 2009 outbreak, swine flu has been a major concern worldwide. The most devastating outbreak that year was observed in Mexico, which was caused by H1N1 strain of the influenza virus. Since then, the disease has spread in over 200 countries, causing many deaths. One of the reasons for the pandemic in emerging countries such as India was the lack of infrastructure to detect the infection in humans and controlling the spread.
Addressing the concern, a research institution in India under the Ministry of Defence's Defence Research and Development Organization, Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), has come up with a swine flu diagnostic kit that can detect the H1N1 virus within an hour.
The new kit developed by the Gwalior-based laboratory and being commercialized by RAS Lifesciences uses a simple technique called real-time loop amplification (LAMP) to detect the swine flu virus. The technology has been transferred to Hyderabad-based Ras Lifesciences for manufacturing the kit commercially under a licensing agreement with DRDO that took place on March 31, 2012. The agreement was signed under the DRDO-FICCI Accelerated Technology Assessment and Commercialization program.
Unlike the new kit called NuLAMP H1N1, the method traditionally adopted for the test is the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methodology recommended by the Centre for Disease Control. This method is not only time consuming but also expensive.
As the name suggests, LAMP works at single temperature (isothermal) and does not need temperature cycling, which is required in other techniques, such as PCR, thereby eliminating the need for sophisticated equipment. "Conventional method was real time and based on PCR, which needed expensive machines and costly reagents. LAMP, however, can be performed in heating block or a water bath, thereby cutting down the cost of capital expenditure tremendously," says Mr Shesheer Kumar, MD, RAS Lifesciences.