Coronavirus: Biotech startup AmpliGene India's COVID-19 testing kit could be the fastest in the world
A research-based company, AmpliGene India Biotech Pvt. Ltd has been on a mission to devise innovative and affordable products and solutions across the field of biotechnology and life sciences.
Earlier this March, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to startups and public to share technology-driven solutions to strengthen the fight against COVID-19, AmpliGene immediately got on the job. Leveraging its expertise in making molecular detection fast, sensitive, and truly portable, the startup developed a test method called MBC COVID-19.
In a conversation with Shradha Sharma, CEO and Founder, YourStory, Dr Chirag Pandya, Co-founder and CEO, AmpliGene India, shares how the startup has always aspired to bring out world-class products from India and now its MBC COVID-19 could be the fastest test kit in the world.
Explaining how the test kit is different from the current testing methodology, which is based on PCR* amplification technology, Chirag shares,
“The test kit uses a novel enzyme which can overcut and bring down the test time drastically. Our test kits can test 150 samples whereas a PCR-based test kit can test only 25 samples in the same time frame.”
After being validated in-house, AmpliGene is now sending the kit to National Institute of Virology for further validation. “It looks very promising. Parallelly, we are talking to a lot of stakeholders to scale-up our operations. So once our test kit get the necessary approvals, we will be ready to deploy in the market in a matter of two to three weeks.”
He adds that AmpliGene's mission is to make molecular diagnostics simple.
What makes AmpliGene’s effort in tackling the COVID-19 crisis appreciable is that the startup is not looking at commercial opportunities. “Initially, our test kits were only optimised for our small portable devices. However, to be part of the global effort to address this challenge, we have optimised our protocolo. Which means it can be applied to any system. So anyone who is using any kind of PCS system can still use our kits.”
In fact, the startup, during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009-2010, approached the Gujarat government to leverage its expertise to address the outbreak.
“Back then, we were very early stage, and we had asked the government to give us access to samples for furthering the R&D efforts. Over time, we have developed a number of test kits for different use cases. Our experience has show that even small biotech startups like ours can get ready for a quick acceleration to address even global emergencies.”
*Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a method used widely in molecular biology to make millions to billions of copies of a specific