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NIH Offers USD 129.3 Million in Scale-Up and Manufacturing Support for New Set of COVID-19 Testing Technologies

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 04 Sep 2020
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Image: MatMaCorp’s Solas 8 portable detection system for SARS-CoV-2 (Photo courtesy of MatMaCorp)
Image: MatMaCorp’s Solas 8 portable detection system for SARS-CoV-2 (Photo courtesy of MatMaCorp)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH Bethesda, MA, USA) has announced USD 129.3 million in scale-up and manufacturing support for a new set of COVID-19 testing technologies as part of its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative.

Under the RADx initiative to speed innovation in the development, commercialization and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing, NIH is awarding contracts to nine companies for technologies that include portable point-of-care tests for immediate results and high-throughput laboratories that can return results within 24 hours. These tests add to initial awards made to seven companies in July. The contracts support several novel technologies, some that use RT-PCR, a highly sensitive way to qualitatively detect nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2. Included is a portable, battery-powered RT-PCR device that gives accurate results in 15 minutes, and a portable mini-lab with reagent flexibility that can perform RT-PCR assays in community hospitals and clinics in underserved, rural populations.

Additional technologies include a lateral-flow immunoassay test strip that can be read without specialized equipment (similar to home pregnancy tests) and a sample concentrating method that significantly improves the sensitivity and performance of many different types of tests. Five high-throughput laboratories will provide an expanded network of coverage for fast-turnaround laboratory tests in US regions of national need. Each of these labs will manage the collection, analysis, and reporting of tens of thousands of tests per day at each site, significantly expanding testing in the US in September. NIH is developing and supporting this diverse group of tests to meet the needs of different communities. Factors such as speed, cost, accessibility and technical performance are key considerations for RADx support. These new technologies collectively will significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week by this fall.

“One of the many facets of our testing strategy is to support and enable innovation,” said Adm. Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health. “The new technologies being funded today have the potential to transform the diagnostics landscape if their promise is proven in clinical studies. This all-of-government approach to testing innovation including DARPA, BARDA, NIH, HHS, and the private sector will yield benefits not only for the current pandemic, but for diverse acute and chronic diseases Americans fight every day.”

Related Links:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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