Scientists of Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have developed a handy diagnostic tool that detects an aquaculture pathogen known as the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV). The peptide-based diagnostic tool has been granted a patent on March 31, 2022 as an alternative biorecognition element. The tool is expected to boost shrimp cultivation in India.
Infection caused by the WSSV to the shrimp Penaeus vannamei results in a huge loss of crop. This high-value super-food is susceptible to a wide range of viral and bacterial pathogens and the probability of occurrence of infections is rather high. Improved nutrition, probiotics, disease resistance, quality control of water, seed and feed, immuno-stimulants and affordable vaccines play an important role in enhancing the production. Technologies for early and rapid detection of pathogens on the field will help fish and shell-fish farming which provides significant export revenue to the country which is a leading supplier of shrimp to the USA.
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To provide a handy, self-use diagnostic for WSSV, Dr Prabir Kulabhusan, Dr Jyutika Rajwade and Dr Kishore Paknikar developed a lateral flow assay using gold nanoparticles for easy visualisation of the results. Instead of using poly-/mono-clonal antibodies in assay development, the ARI scientists selected twelve amino acid-containing peptides from a phage display library by biopanning. This was a time- and cost-saving approach, eliminating the need for immunisation of laboratory animals to obtain the antisera. With the use of peptides, cold-chain requirements for storage are reduced and the assay becomes production-friendly.
“Our data indicates high specificity (100%) and sensitivity (96.77%) of the assay, early detection from hemolymph, highly reproducible results with a time-to-result of only 20 minutes,” said Dr Jyutika Rajwade.
The inventors have published this research in aquaculture pathogen diagnostic tool in Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology and Journal of Molecular Modelling. ARI PhD student Snehal Jamalpure-Lakka, has presented this idea at the National Bio-Entrepreneurship Conclave (NBEC)-2021 and was awarded. She will take this work further for commercialisation.