VNIR Biotechnologies Private Limited, a spinoff by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology launched indigenous fluorescence probes and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) mix for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection which are molecular probes used in COVID-19 test kits.
Molecular Probes Used in COVID-19 Test Kits
A typical, PCR based test kit has three critical components (oligos, enzymes, molecular probes). The first two are partly available in India and partly imported while molecular probes used in COVID 19 tests, however are only imported. The molecular probes are used to track the amplification in PCR. Their immediate application is for COVID-19 testing, but they are general-purpose molecular tools for molecular diagnostic tests of several diseases.
VNIR has innovated synthesis protocols for a suite of molecular probes, which will be useful for PCR based COVID-19 testing. VNIR will be filing for the protection of its process innovation. Molecular diagnostic tests used to be limited to research laboratories or for limited applications. COVID-19 has presented a unique problem that the finest level of molecular diagnostic test has to be performed almost at a complete population level if needed. Given the scale of tests required for COVID-19, it is very important to become self-reliant with the critical test kit components. Enzyme and oligo needs are partly met from Indian manufacturers, and VNIR envisions to address the third critical component, which is the molecular probes.
Molecular probe development is a consequence of synthetic organic chemistry, by understanding several aspects of it – the molecule, its target, the availability of chemicals, and optimizing the yields at each step of the synthesis by a judicious choice of protocols. VNIR used its core strengths in molecular probe development to develop the molecular probes using novel synthetic routes.
[The VNIR Biotechnologies Private Limited is incubated at Bangalore Bio-innovation Centre (BBC) of the Karnataka government].