Mapmygenome launches COVID-19 sample collection kit CoviSafe for safe testing

CoviSafe uses a stabilising solution to deactivate the COVID-19 virus from the swabs collected to reduce the risk for healthcare workers who deal with the samples.
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Amid increasing cases of COVID-19, Hyderabad-based Mapmygenome launched its new product Covisafe™ aimed at ensuring that COVID-19 samples are collected safely and infection risk is reduced for healthcare workers who handle the samples.

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The company says the product has been validated by CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, and has also received certification as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) protocols.

After the nasopharyngeal (nasal) or oropharyngeal (throat) swab is collected, it is placed in a stabilising solution which contains RNAShield™, a US FDA approved reagent developed by US-based Zymo Research. The solution helps in deactivating the virus without interfering with the integrity of DNA/RNA.

"The reagent does not interfere with the downstream process and need not be removed from the sample, before or during RNA extraction," Mapmygenome said in a statement.

How CoviSafe works

According to the startup, the current COVID-19 testing procedure uses Viral Transport Media (VTM). The VTM includes a screw cap plastic tube which contains buffered proteins such as serum, albumin, or gelatin, and antibiotics in order to safely carry infectious microorganisms.

CoviSafe uses RNAShield™-based solution to deactivate the virus. This lowers the risk of contamination for healthcare workers who deal with the samples. Apart from this, the collected sample can be safely transported to the clinic for diagnosis at ambient temperatures and does not require cold-chain transport.

The company also claimed that the samples collected using CoviSafe can be stored for up to 30 days at temperatures below 25°C, unlike VTM samples.

“Covisafe offers some benefits during lab processing as well. Samples collected in these kits are not vulnerable to degradation during multiple freeze-thaw cycles, unlike VTM samples. The Covisafe kit can be used directly in the lab (no pre-processing needed to remove the stabiliser reagent) and is compatible with RNA extraction kits from standard providers such as Roche, Qiagen, and ThermoFisher,” Mapmygenome CEO Anu Acharya said.

“Scaling up is the need of the hour and India needs more and more testing laboratories to churn out tests every day. Not only does the Covisafe kit reduce infection from live virus, it saves significant costs in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cold-chain logistics, and downstream processing,” the CEO added.

Edited by Javed Gaihlot