IISc-incubated startup Azooka Life discovers safest food-grade nucleic acid gel stain

03 Mar 2016


An Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-incubated startup, Azooka Life Sciences, has reported the discovery of the safest food-grade DNA / RNA stain, which is also the first from India - a development that would make life of scientists involved in various DNA-testing procedures safe from cancer-causing agents.

J Fathima Benazir, co-founder and CEO of Azooka Life Sciences announced the discovery of `Tinto rang', a patent-pending, food-grade nucleic acid gel stain.

The new stain protects scientific community in conducting DNA tests from exposure to carcinogens - substances or agents directly involved in causing cancer, as well as mutagens that are physical or chemical agents, which change the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism, claims Azooka.

''The focus of Azooka is to develop safe DNA/ RNA fluorescent stains for applications in biological sciences and genomics. `Tinto rang' is the first ever food-grade nucleic acid gel stain making it the safest option currently available in the world,'' says Benazir.

Further, Benazir pointed out that `Tinto rang' is also seven times more sensitive than Ethidium Bromide.

H S Savithri, a professor at IISc, said the best property of `Tinto rang' is that it doesn't alter the structure of the DNA and can be used for multiple tests.

`Tinto rang' will be available to researchers and businesses in the molecular diagnosis space in India by the second quarter of 2016.

Benazir said one can obtain results within 30 seconds to a minute with `Tinto rang' compared to currently available stains, which take anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes to visualise DNA.

Currently, there are around 30 nucleic acid stains in the world that bind to DNA and RNA. But `Tinto rang' "differs in the fact that all the available stains are carcinogenic and mutagenic," she said. "They may also be bio-hazardous. Hence specific safety measures need to be adopted, which pushes up the costs of the diagnostics and DNA-based testing indirectly. We are the first reported food grade DNA/RNA stain from India, which has been sourced from widely used traditional food items, making it the safest option available."

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule implicated in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the three major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life.

Nucleic acid stains are widely used every day in DNA and RNA purification and visualisation. It helps in detection and analysis of DNA or RNA for various applications. Major applications are in biomedical science, in disease detection and diagnosis.

DNA forensics is another major area of application as crime rates rise.

The discovery is significant both because of the cancer safety aspect and low costs of DNA testing. It can drastically cut down costs of DNA testing by 50-60 per cent.

Azooka is seed funded and incubated by Society for Innovation & Development (SID) at IISc.

It will have a direct impact on the cost of molecular diagnostics, by eliminating import and excise duties, besides reducing handling and disposal costs.

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