Jamia to manufacture saliva-based Covid-19 testing kit, making way for easy tests at home

By Faris Kallayi

In what could strengthen India's fight against Covid-19 and extend relief to health workers, the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) researchers have developed a saliva-based testing kit that can display results within an hour. The team of scientists from Multidisciplinary Centre for Advanced Research and Studies (MCARS) at JMI along with experts from other institutes have developed India’s first RNA extraction free saliva-based detection technology for COVID-19. 

The kit has been developed by MCARS scientists Dr Tanveer Ahmad, Dr Jawed Iqbal, and Dr Mohan C. Joshi. And it allows users to collect their saliva in a tube, add a chemical, heat the components, and then use a paper strip to get the results, all within an hour. 

With CASSPIT (Cas13 Associated Saliva-based and Smartphone Integrated Testing), the researchers believe reliance on RT-PCR tests, which takes 24 hours, can be reduced.

Users can also use MI-SEHAT app where further information about the severity of the virus can be accessed by scanning the paper strip. The app also helps users to consult doctors remotely. 

CASSPIT uses CRISPR-Cas system for the diagnosis. According to the researchers, CASSPIT is cheaper and faster and does not need a laboratory setup and intervention of a technical expert. 

“Clinical validation of CASSPIT is complete and from our end this technology is ready. We have also filed a patent,” Dr Tanveer Ahmad said. 

“Now the process is to take this to market. Jamia is meeting the companies who are interested to take this technology. So we are currently working on transferring this technology to the companies. Once we finalize a particular company, then we are going to manufacture it and distribute,” he added. 

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