ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Coronavirus

Japan devises first homegrown PCR tests for Indian COVID strain

New reagent kits from Shimadzu to hit market as soon as next month

The wife of a man suffering from breathing problems pleads for oxygen support in Ghaziabad, India, on May 3. A potentially more virulent coronavirus variant has been found in India, where new COVID-19 cases are rising sharply.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Shimadzu, the Japanese company known for measuring instruments, has developed what is thought to be Japan's first domestically made PCR testing reagents for the potentially more virulent COVID-19 variant detected in India, with plans for a release as early as June.

A step called nucleic acid extraction is eliminated, reducing the chances of error and halving the wait time to around an hour.

The new reagent detects the L452R mutation, which is found in the Indian and California variants and characterized by an alteration at amino acid position 452 in a protein of the virus.

Shimadzu is also set to become on Thursday one of the first Japanese companies to sell reagent kits detecting the N501Y mutation found in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil variants. The company has established a system for mass-producing the reagents, developed in March. This capacity allows for producing enough to cover 10,000 tests a month. Reagents for 100 tests will cost 230,000 yen ($2,110).

These reagent kits will be sold to epidemiology testing laboratories, not health care institutions, because samples that test positive are checked for the presence of any variants by testing labs.

Shimadzu will bundle its core COVID-19 testing kit, which includes three types of reagents, with reagents for variants. (Photo by Yuji Ohira)

In Japan, Swiss company Roche offers reagents for variants. Domestic player Takara Bio says it will also put on the market in mid-May reagents that can detect both the E484K mutation -- reported to weaken immunity effects -- and the N501Y mutation.

The Japanese government has asked prefectural officials to screen 40% of samples for variants.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more