CSIR moots ‘mega labs’ to boost COVID-19 testing

News: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) is working on developing “mega labs” to ramp up testing for COVID-19 as well as improve the accuracy rate.

Facts:

  • Mega Labs: These labs will use Next Generation Sequencing(NGS) machines (NGS) which are normally used for sequencing human genomes to sequence 1,500 to 3,000 viral genomes at a go to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Additional Facts:

  • Genome sequencing: It means determining the order of the four chemical building blocks called “bases” that make up the DNA molecule. 
  • Next Generation Sequencing(NGS): It allows parallel Genome sequencing resulting in the generation of giga bases of data in a short amount of time.This has reduced the cost per genome significantly, making genomic data more accessible to individual researchers.
  • Comparison with RT-PCR Test: The NGS machines can detect the presence of the virus even in several instances where the traditional RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests fail.
    • This is because the RT-PCR test identifies the SARS-CoV-2 virus by exploring only specific sections whereas the genome method can read a bigger chunk of virus genome.
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