COVID-19: CSRI transfers saline gargle RT-PCR technology to MSME Ministry

The Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has transfered the technology for saline gargle RT-PCR technique, used for testing COVID-19 samples, to the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) for commercialisation.

“The know-how has been transferred to the Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) on a non-exclusive basis. This would enable the innovation to be commercialised and licensed to all capable parties, including private, government and various rural development schemes and departments,” the Ministry of Science and Technology said in a statment.

Developed by NEERI, under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the saline gargle RT-PCR technology is simple, fast, cost-effective, patient-friendly and comfortable. It also provides instant test results and is well-suited for rural and tribal areas, given minimal infrastructure requirements, it said.

CSIR-NEERI said that the innovation developed by the institute has been ‘dedicated to the nation’ to serve the society.

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The licensees for the technology are expected to set up manufacturing facilities for commercial production in the form of easily usable compact kits.

“In the light of the prevailing pandemic situation and probable third wave of COVID-19, CSIR-NEERI fast-tracked the know-how transfer process to potential licensees for its wider dissemination across the nation,” the ministry said.

The saline gargle RT-PCR method uses a simple collection tube filled with saline solution. The patient gargles the solution and rinses it inside the tube. This sample in the collection tube is taken to the laboratory where it is kept at room temperature in a special buffer solution prepared by NEERI.

An RNA template is produced when this solution is heated, which is further processed for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). This method of collecting and processing the sample also enables to save on the otherwise costly infrastructural requirement of RNA extraction.

The ceremonial transfer of the standard operating rocedure (SOP) and know-how of the saline gargle RT-PCR technique was done in the presence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday.

Gadkari called for use of the technology across the country, especially in resource-poor regions like rural and tribal areas. “This would result in faster and more citizen-friendly testing and will strengthen our fight against the pandemic,” he said.