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With DNA data, biotech cos can build diagnostics: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

With DNA data, biotech cos can build diagnostics: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
By: ET GM Posted On: March 15, 2020 View: 17

With DNA data, biotech cos can build diagnostics: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

BENGALURU: Indian biotech firms can quickly come up with rapid screen tests to diagnose the novel coronavirus infection, helping health administrators increase the scale of testing, Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said.

“This rapid screening diagnostic can be done very fast, you just have to get primers. Once the primers are made available by government labs, many biotech companies can develop the diagnostic,” Mazumdar-Shaw told ET.

Primers are short pieces of the DNA of a virus that is used for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that help in reducing the time to diagnose a disease. Scientists have sequenced the genome of the novel coronavirus. The rapid screening diagnostic here means taking the Covid-19 virus sequence and creating a PCR-based test to match against the sequence.

If a lab collects the throat swab of a coronavirus suspect and checks if it matches the Covid-19 virus DNA sequence using PCR test, it could be a rapid way of detecting if one has Covid-19 — the result would become available within hours, instead of two days at present. In such a case one does not have to wait for severe symptoms to appear.

“An early diagnosis can lead to early treatment and better outcomes,” said Mazumdar-Shaw, who is also the managing director of Biocon. Last week, Switzerland-based pharma major Roche said it got approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for a diagnostic test that could reduce the screening time for Covid-19 to four hours.

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