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Chikungunya diagnosis gets a boost in Kochi

News18

Updated: August 3, 2011, 8:55 AM IST
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Chikungunya diagnosis gets a boost in Kochi
KOCHI: Scientists here have developed a genetically-engineered antigen to diagnose chikungunya with greater accuracy.
The scie..

KOCHI: Scientists here have developed a genetically-engineered antigen to diagnose chikungunya with greater accuracy.
The scientists, from the SCMS Biotechnology Centre here, are confident that the antigen would make diagnosis of the disease more cost-effective, apart from giving accurate results.
They are also just a whisker away from inventing chikungunya vaccine.
Native antigen, which is produced from the same virus which causes the disease, is being currently used to diagnose chikungunya.
Health hazards while culturing the virus, high cost and less accuracy are the main drawbacks of the native antigen diagnosis. Both native antigen method and the recombinant (genetically-engineered) antigen method use Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for the diagnosis.
The difference lies in the use of the antigens.
To develop the antigen, the scientists amplified the gene from the protein coat of the virus and purified it, a report published in the Journal of Immunological Methods, the official journal of the Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologists, USA, stated.
"Then the gene was cloned into e-coli bacteria by genetic engineering method. In the next step, we isolated the recombinant protein the protein of the virus from the bacteria cells and confirmed it using Western Blot Test," C Mohankumar, who led the team of scientists, said. He is also the director of SCMS Biotechnology Centre.
"Identifying the antigenic domain in the recombinant protein was the next stage. We tested it on 180 persons who had already been diagnosed with the disease. Then, we confirmed it using a computer software to detect the antigenic characteristics," Mohankumar said.
The recombinant antigen is extremely small in size just 11 kilodalton, the unit for measuring the molecular mass of protein.
"With high accuracy and low mass, it will be easy to produce a vaccine by using attenuated or inactivated antigen. We have already approached the Department of BioTechnology, Government of India, and Indian Council of Medical Research for securing their nod to produce the vaccine," he said.

First Published: August 3, 2011, 8:55 AM IST
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