RGCB launches mobile virology lab amid rising Nipah cases in Keralatext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Kerala launched a fully equipped mobile virology testing laboratory on Thursday, bolstering efforts to control the Nipah virus infection that has been reported in some areas of the state's Kozhikode district.
The Mobile Virology Lab was officially flagged off by Veena George, Minister of Health, Woman and Child Development.
Lauding the RGCB for stepping in to significantly help the Nipah containment efforts by rolling out such a critical facility, she said more samples can be tested with the mobile lab reaching Kozhikode later in the day, IANS reported.
"Biosafety Level 2 (BSL) plus Level 3 practices can be done in the lab where two machines will be working simultaneously. At any given point of time, each machine can handle around 96 samples and a total of 192 samples can be tested in the two machines," George said.
She also informed that a mobile lab from the National Institute of Biosciences (NIB), Pune, has already reached Kozhikode.
RGCB Director Prof Chandrabhas Narayana said the services of a group of six experts have been made available in the mobile unit, which can give results within six hours after testing the samples.
"The mobile lab will be deployed right at the containment zone. Any small number of samples can also be tested to provide prompt results to the public," he said.
Narayana also said like a BSL 3 facility, the mobile lab has a double airlock system and features onboard decontamination and biological waste processing capabilities. It can perform testing for bacteria, fungi, and other pathogenic organisms, as well as assess food quality.
The unit is developed by the Laboratory Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics (LMMD) division of the RGCB. It is equipped with cutting-edge machinery and operated by highly experienced staff with expertise in molecular diagnostics. It can be powered directly from standard domestic outlets and functions seamlessly using its onboard diesel generator.
The equipment inventory includes PCR machines, gel documentation systems, workstations, high-speed refrigerated centrifuges, minus 80-degree freezers, refrigerators, DNA/RNA extracting machines, and an autoclave, among others.
It serves as a self-contained and fully functional diagnostic laboratory. The lab is tethered through the internet to the RGCB for speedy data analysis and dissemination of results immediately upon authorisation. The mobile facility can collect samples in a designated area accessible from the vehicle's rear. These samples are transferred through a UV-illuminated pass box to maintain a controlled and safe environment.