Diagnostics Development Platform

Molecular diagnostics provides powerful tools for early and more accurate diagnosis of diseases, paving the path towards personalized medicine. Accurate diagnosis is the key to the right treatment, and early diagnosis of a disease is critical for saving lives. Absence of cost-effective diagnostic methods and delayed or inaccurate diagnosis remain a health care challenge in our country. To address the existing diagnostics gap, we are developing a platform for diagnostic solutions for various infectious and rare diseases using the latest cutting-edge technologies like CRISPR.

Our diagnostics platform is focused on developing novel, low-cost, point-of-care diagnostic solutions suitable for field application in India using the latest cutting-edge technologies such as CRISPR, digital PCR, isothermal amplifications (LAMP and RPA) as well as NGS panels. The aim is to provide innovative solutions for early diagnostics that are rapid, robust, affordable, and accessible to the remotest part of the country.

Harvinder Kour Khera

India accounts for 27% of global tuberculosis cases, one fourth of which are drug resistant, and 3% of global malaria cases. There are several disadvantages to the current rapid diagnostic test-based detection of malaria, and drug-resistant tuberculosis detection takes several weeks. At TIGS, we are developing CRISPR-based diagnostic solutions for malaria and tuberculosis.

We have standardized the amplification of target regions for CRISPR-based detection of Malaria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We are now working towards improving the sensitivity of the assays in order to detect low parasite loads/copies.

In the case of rare genetic disorders, diagnosis using sequencing or multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) after the observation of symptoms is quite expensive and requires infrastructure and expertise. Low-cost targeted nucleic acid-based panels would be the approach to overcome this problem. We are currently optimizing CRISPR-based assays developed for the detection of SMA (Spinal muscular atrophy). We are also working towards indigenization of resources to reduce the cost. In this context, we have optimized expression and purification methods to develop in-house generated Cas enzymes.

Investigator: Harvinder Kour Khera

In a collaborative effort, we optimised CRISPR Cas 12a based Covid 19 detection using a low cost CRISPR cube device which can rapidly show a visually detectable color change in infected samples. The device is portable and can run on battery for 24 hours upon single charge. Once approved by the ICMR, the device can be used in low-resource settings for Covid detection.

Investigator: Harvinder Kour Khera

Enhanced Innovations Private Limited

This project includes the development and validation of an in-house cell free transcription/translation system for coupling with the Dengue sensors and lyophilization and to optimize sensitivity of the Dengue detection assay. This will be done by optimizing isothermal RNA amplification and detection by RNA sensors.

Investigator: Harvinder Kour Khera

Department of Biochemistry, School of Lifesciences, University of Hyderabad
Arati Ramesh, TIGS