Azooka Labs, a startup incubated by the Society for Innovation and Development at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, has launched India’s first indigenous biological transport and storage medium for research use – a step towards making India self-reliant in manufacturing media for transport and preservation of genetic samples, an important part of fighting pandemics.
Named mWRAPR, this medium developed at the IISc-incubated startup, helps in preserving genetic content in all types of biological samples including microbiomes, saliva, cells, tissues, blood, body fluids and faecal tubes. It is the only molecular transport medium to be manufactured in India that competes with reputed sample stabilisation and transporting media, such as Paxgene and RNALater, a press communique from Azooka Labs stated.
“With a global supply chain crunch limiting accessibility to materials for molecular diagnostics, especially in the area of research, there is now an increasing need for India to be able to domestically manufacture them. While most high-quality storage and transport mediums for biological samples in India are manufactured abroad, we are proud to say that home-grown Azooka Labs is stepping in to fill in that gap, and meet the demand,” said B Gurumurthy, CEO, Society for Innovation and Development at IISc Bangalore.
Besides this transport medium, Azooka Labs has also developed a sample collection and storage medium for RT PCR and other molecular tests called RNA WRAPR.
The sample collection kits used for RT PCR tests in India are not of molecular grade. They generally tend to be cheap nutrient-based mediums with significant potential for contamination.
“RNA WRAPR is the kind of molecular grade sample collection medium that India needs right now,” said Alex Paul, co-founder and CEO, Azooka Labs.
After the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azooka’s RNA WRAPR received an incubation-to-market bridge funding from Honeywell and Citigroup to develop a contamination free COVID-19 viral transport medium that can be stored at room temperature for up to a week.
This product does not require dry ice for storage and can be processed in a week. It is a storage medium for COVID-19 that is safe, easy to use and affordable, the institute stated in its communique. RNA WRAPR comes in 3ml in a 10ml vial with Flocculated Nylon Nasal Swabs.
With market deployment of the COVID-19 diagnostic series and research-use-only product series, iLabKart Technologies will be Azooka’s authorised partner for the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. As the sales partner of Azooka, iLabkart has sold more than 7 lakh units of RNA WRAPR to RV Metropolis Labs. Azooka has been the only COVID collection medium provider that has recorded zero contamination cases, the company stated in its communique.