ICMR, Zydus launch diagnostic kits for infectious diseases

Government of India-funded Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and private sector player Zydus have announced the launch of new diagnostic kits that can help in detecting Japanese Encephalitis Virus in mosquitoes and the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever in sheep, goat and cattle.

The kits are the result of the research and development conducted by ICMR along with inputs from Zydus.

Typically, most of the research done by government of India-funded scientific organizations fail to reach the market due to lack of interface with the industry, unlike this case.

Zydus said the kits target the kind of infectious diseases found in places like India. Typically, third-world diseases are neglected by large pharmaceutical companies in favor of less life-threatening conditions afflicting people in richer countries.

More kits will soon be launched with the ability to detect measles; Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV) and Chandipura Virus (CHPV) in Humans; and the simultaneous detection of dengue and chikungunya.

The kits have been developed by ICMR’s National Institute of Virology, Pune.

“The kits have been developed to detect infections in the animal population, as they often are the hosts or reservoirs, spreading the infection to humans who come in close contact with them,” Zydus said.

“This public private partnership will open newer avenues for many more indigenously diagnostics for public health benefits. These technologies will enable detection of outbreaks of dangerous and lifethreatening diseases and also give a boost to the government’s ‘Make in India’ efforts.”

These kits will be manufactured and marketed by Zydus Diagnostics, a division of Cadila Healthcare based in Ahmedabad.

The kits provide results within 2.5 to 3 hours and are both highly sensitive and specific, the company said.

The kits will be available for use in public health laboratories and hospitals across India and other countries.

“In line with our mission to create healthier communities, we have always Supported initiatives in public health, making niche technologies and therapies accessible to people and bridging unmet healthcare needs. We are happy to partner with ICMR and help in being better equipped in this war against infectious disease outbreaks” said Pankaj Patel, Chairman, Zydus Group.

According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, India witnessed 1916 cases of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) leading to 226 deaths in 2017.

The virus is transmitted through more than 15 species of Culex mosquitoes, predominantly found in rural and semi-urban settings, where humans live in close proximity to these hosts.

Timely detection of JE is a much needed public health intervention, as 1 in 4 cases can prove fatal.

One of the advantage of the new test is that the result can be obtained within four hours.

Apart from India, the Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is also reported from Eastern Europe, former Soviet Union, throughout the Mediterranean, in North-western China, central Asia, Southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Animal herders and livestock workers in endemic areas are at risk of CCHF.

The other fairly common vector borne infectious diseases are Kyasanur Forest Disease and the Chandipura Virus Disease, which have been posing a threat to public health with periodic lifethreatening outbreaks.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is the top government body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.

It is one of the oldest medical research institutions in the world.