Screening test kit for early detection of silicosis developed by ICMR, NIOH, NIV

Silicosis is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, when nothing much can be done.

The Indian Council for Medical Research, National Institute for Occupational Health and National Institute of Virology have jointly developed a screening test kit for early detection of silicosis and silico tuberculosis.

ICMR has transferred the technology to Axiva Sichem Biotech, Delhi, and Acrannolife Genomics, Chennai.

Shyam Sundar Nandi of ICMR in Mumbai, one of the team members that developed the kit, said, “Silicosis is an incurable, irreversible and progressive lung disease caused by continuous or intermittent exposure to silica dust while working. Silicosis is caused by inhalation of respirable crystalline silica dust which, over time, leads to lung inflammation and fibrosis. India has an estimated 12.5 million silicosis affected people.”

Silicosis is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, when nothing much can be done. Secondary prevention by early detection of silicosis could be an option for control of silicosis, provided a suitable predictor is available, a press note issued by Nandi said.

Nandi and his team members Dr Upendra Lambe, Sonali Sawant, Dr Jagadish Deshpande from ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Mumbai unit and, Dr Kamlesh Sarkar have jointly developed a point of care silicosis screening kit for early detection of silicosis. The research work has been accepted in the Journal ‘Nature Scientific Reports’, US, October 2021.

By early next year, the two companies to which the technology has been transferred are expected to start manufacturing the kits.

India has a large burden of silicosis, mostly among workers in the unorganised sector. There are many silicosis cases in states like West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradhesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

There are many cases in other countries like Bangladesh, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Latin America and Brazil.

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