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A new and cheaper kit to test for leptospirosis will soon hit the market. The kit was developed by researchers from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and Anna University.
Leptospirosis, commonly known as rat fever is a zoonotic disease caused by infected rats.
The bacterial disease that occurs more often during monsoon when people walk through stagnant water is difficult to diagnose and requires laboratory investigation. Since the symptoms are similar to those found in malaria, jaundice and typhoid fever, diagnosis is difficult. The infection is easily curable but if a doctor does not suspect leptospirosis and fails to advise investigation the patient could die.
Currently laboratories use the MAT – microscopic agglutination test, which requires maintenance of live culture of leptospira serovars. The new Elisa testing kit will have the same performance characteristics as MAT and has been developed using recombinant protein.
“The advantage is you don’t have to maintain live culture. The protein can be mass produced, and the test is also easy to do, allowing for easy mass screening,” says Prof. G. Dhinakar Raj, principal investigator, Department of Animal Biotechnology, TANUVAS.
The Microbiology Department of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and the Madhavaram centre of TANUVAS have cultures of some commonly occurring serovars in the city. “The advantage of the Elisa test kit is we have taken the common regions of all pathogenic serovars. We have synthesised the genes and cloned it. We have trained the company’s employees in preparing the proteins. They will replicate the proteins in their laboratory,” Dr. Raj explained.
The Elisa kit, which is being commercially produced by a Hyderabad-based company, will cut the cost by a fifth of the present.
Currently the market rate for a diagnostic test for leptospirosis is around Rs. 250. With the new kit the cost will be Rs. 50 per test.
The research was conducted in Anna University’s National Hub for Healthcare Instrumentation Development with funds from the Department of Science and Technology.
From: The Hindu