NEERI scientists develop a gargle-based RTPCR test

Our Bureau | | Updated on: May 28, 2021
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Cheaper, quicker technique makes sample collection easier in rural and tribal areas


Virology researchers at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research lab based in Nagpur, (CSIR-NEERI) have developed a saline gargle-based RTPCR test which is quicker, cheaper and non-invasive.

The technique, which has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research, is significant because it makes sample collection easier in rural and inaccessible tribal areas, an official statement said on Friday.

“Swab collection method requires time. Moreover, since it is an invasive technique, it is a bit uncomfortable for patients. The transport of the sample to the collection centre is time consuming. On the other hand, the saline gargle RT-PCR method is instant, comfortable and patient-friendly. Sampling is done instantly and results will be generated within 3 hours,” said Krishna Khairnar, senior scientist at the environmental virology cell in CSIR-NEERI.

No technical expertise required

The sample collection currently used – swab collection from nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal regions – requires technical expertise. But this test can be done by the person who wants such a test by himself or herself. The person is given a sample collection tube containing the saline solution which needs to be gargled for 15 seconds by the person before spitting it back into the container. This can then be stored in a container that keeps the sample at a colder temperature till it reaches the lab where a buffer solution specially prepared by the CSIR-NEERI scientists is used for extacting RNA for RTPCR test. “This particular method of collecting and processing the sample enables us to save on the otherwise costly infrastructural requirement of RNA extraction. People can also test themselves, since this method allows self-sampling. The method is environment-friendly as well, since waste generation is minimised,” said Khairnar.


The scientist said that the innovative testing technique will be especially beneficial for rural and tribal areas where infrastructure requirements can be a constraint. ICMR has already asked CSIR-NEERI to train other testing labs, to help scale up its adoption across the country.

Nagpur Municipal Corporation has given permission to go ahead with the method, following which testing has begun at NEERI, as per approved testing protocol.

Published on July 09, 2021

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