First Mobile RT-PCR lab of India developed by IISc launched in Karnataka

On August 5, 2020, the State Government of Karnataka launched India’s first mobile RT-PCR lab in Bengaluru. The lab was developed by Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. The lab has been named Mobile Infection Testing and Reporting (MITR) lab. It is capable of conducting 9000 tests per month.

About the lab

Apart from testing COVID-19, the lab can also be utilised to test HCV, H1N1, TB, HIV, HPV, etc. The main advantage of the lab is that it can be used for molecular diagnostic testing in COVID-19 hotspots quickly.


The RT-PCR is the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction. The test mainly measures the amount of a specific RNA. During the test, RNA is converted into complementary DNA using the enzyme reverse transcriptase.

COVID-19 testing

The COVID-19 testing assesses the current or past presence of SARS-COV-2 virus. There are two branches in the testing namely detecting the presence of virus or antibodies. The test that involves detecting the virus is used to diagnose individual cases. This helps public health authorities to trace and contain the outbreak. On the other hand, the antibody testing shows if a person has had the disease earlier. This is useful in asses disease prevalence and estimate infection fatality rate.

Other COVID-19 testing

Apart from RT-PCR, there are several other COVID-19 testing methodologies used. They are as follows

Isothermal Amplification Assays

It is an Isothermal nucleic acid amplification testing methodology that is used to amplify genome of the virus. It is faster than RT-PCR as it does not involve repeated cooling and heating cycles.

Antigen Testing

The antigen testing of COVID-19 looks for proteins in the viral surfaces. In case of COVID-19, the antigen testing looks for the surface spikes.


These are blood tests that are used to identify antibodies such as IgM and IgG. These antibodies are generated as an immune response by the human body against COVID-19.

The other COVID-19 tests used are as follows

  • Rapid Diagnostic Test
  • Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
  • Neutralization Assay
  • Chemiluminescent Immunoassay.