Cheap and stable at high temperature
researchers from the Delhi-based National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (nihfw) have developed hormone estimation kits to carry out investigations relating to infertility, pregnancy and certain diseases. Till date, such kits had to be imported.
The scientists have prepared five kits, which monitor different hormones that remain active even at room temperature. Whereas imported kits tend to denature with time at warmer temperatures, the nihfw kits are stable at high temperature, making them suitable for use even in remote areas. Also, the latter will be cheaper: each kit is estimated to cost Rs 1,000, while an imported hormone kit costs Rs 8,000-10,000.
All the five kits are based on elisa , a diagnostic technique that uses enzymes linked to an antibody or antigen that serve as markers for a specific protein. Four of the kits developed are meant for single hormones -- cortisol, progesterone, 17 a - oh progesterone and testosterone. The fifth kit can measure both progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin together. This kit is especially useful in monitoring pregnancy following in vitro fertilisation. It is the only kit of its kind in the world.
The other kits are used to detect ovulation, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, infertility and impotence in males. Also, they are important for diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as Cushing's Syndrome (a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body's tissues to high levels of cortisol) and Addison Disease (severe deficiency of cortisol).
The kits have been tested around the country and four of them won 'Outstanding' certificates from the prestigious External Quality Assurance Services programme of Bio-Rad Laboratories, a leading manufacturer of diagnotic kits based in the us.
"This is research for the benefit of society," says nihfw director Neeraj K Sethi. nihfw has taken an Indian patent for the technique that makes the kits stable at high temperature and has also applied for patents for each specific kit.
The technology is ready for transfer to the industry and nihfw has constituted a committee with experts from the department of science and technology, the Indian Council of Medical Research and other such organisations to facilitate the process.
The scientists believe the scope of the research is immense. "The same technology can be adapted for developing other test kits as well and work has already started on development of a kit for thyroid," says lead researcher Tulsidas G Shrivastav, who is a reader in the department of reproductive biomedicine, nihfw.
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