Prof. Felix Akpa, Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), says the RNASwift extraction kit for COVID-19 diagnosis developed by a Nigerian scientist is the first in Africa and ready for production.
The RNASwift kit for now, is the only one in Africa and has been fully validated by three independent national agencies.
Akpa who spoke in an interview on Friday in Abuja listed the three independent national agencies.
They are: The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), NABDA and the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
According to the director general, NIMR released their full validation report in early June, the kit was sent to them for validation in early May.
He further disclosed that NCDC and NABDA released a preliminary validation in May, completed and released their full validation in late June.
“No other RNASwift kits in Africa have yet undergone such extensive validation, hence the RNASwift kit is the only RNA kit in Africa ready for production,’’ Akpa said.
The professor assured that the validations followed appropriate biosafety and diagnostic protocols set by the United States Food and Drugs Administration’s guidelines for diagnostic kits validation emergencies.
On its invention, he disclosed that the RNASwift was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
He said that it was developed for the diagnosis of COVID-19 by identifying whether or not a patient was carrying the virus causing COVID-19.
Akpa also hinted that the RNASwift was a diagnostic kit for the extraction of RNA.
Speaking on the attributes of the RNASwift diagnostic kit, he said the RNASwift extraction protocol was a low cost alternative to commercially available extraction.
He said the quality of the RNA extracts from RNASwift was comparable to two commercially available extraction kits in use in Nigeria.
“Due to the high yield, purity and reproducible cycle threshold (CT) values, the RNA extraction kit is a good alternative to other commercially available RNA extraction kits.
“RNASwift uses less-toxic chemical such as sodium chloride and sodium dodecyl sulphate to lyse cells and isolate the RNA from the abundant cellular components.
“In addition, the extraction protocol of the kit is scalable to automated RNA extraction systems where available,’’ the director general said.
He also said that other attributes and comparable advantages of the RNASwift included cost effectiveness, use of fewer toxic chemicals compared to other commercially available extraction kits.
He said the kit had high purity of RNA, comparable RNA yield, with commercially available RNA extraction kits and that the kit components could be stored at room temperature for up to 10 months.