ITB team has succeeded in making the qPCR type of Corona Virus Detection Machine
The number of PCR machines in Indonesia is still limited. During the current surge in Covid-19 cases, the queue for examining patient samples has become long and it takes a long time. In addition, there is no domestic production of PCR machines so far. Seeing this condition, the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) lecturer team took the initiative to make a machine to detect the coronavirus (SARS CoV-2) that causes Covid-19. The tool used for testing samples of the corona virus is called ‘qPCR’ or quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The machine which is classified as a prototype of the first model has been made as many as four units. The ITB lecturers involved in the qPCR machine research are Anggraini Barlian and Karlia Meitha from the School of Biological Science and Technology, and Adi Indrayanto and Muhammad Iqbal Arsyad from the School of Electrical and Informatics Engineering.
This qPCR machine made by ITB runs two important processes simultaneously. While processing the duplication of RNA (ribonucleic acid) stored in 16 sample tubes using the Thermal Cycling technique, the machine simultaneously detects viral RNA by electrophoresis technique. The detection is done by observing the intensity of the glow of a special compound called a fluorophore. The compound is bound to viral RNA. The more viral RNA that is successfully duplicated, the more specific compounds are bound. This special compound will glow if given light with a certain color. From the four types of compounds, the team only used one type of fluorophore, namely SYBR Green. The team plans to continue to develop the capabilities of the machine by using more than one type of fluorophore at the same time to increase the accuracy of virus detection.
The government provides research and development funds for qPCR machines amounting to Rp 1 billion. Although the machine is now complete and has been tested several times in the laboratory, the team still needs to carry out additional testing and refinement of the software system. The goal is to pass the testing by the authorized institution. It is hoped that this machine will be used sooner.