Trying to meet coronavirus demands
NIH awards nearly $249M into new COVID-19 testing technologies
BETHSDA, Md.—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges associated with COVID-19 testing (which detects SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus).
Specifically, NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative has awarded contracts to seven biomedical diagnostic companies to support a range of new lab-based and point-of-care tests that could significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week as early as September 2020. With national demand estimated to be millions more tests per day above current levels, these technologies are expected to make a significant contribution to expanding the nation’s testing capacity, according to NIH.
“RADx moved incredibly quickly to select promising technologies through its ‘shark tank’ approach, investing in technologies that could boost America’s best-in-the-world COVID-19 testing capacity by millions more tests per day,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.”
The seven technologies use different methods and formats and can be performed in a variety of settings to meet diverse needs. Four of the technologies introduce innovations in laboratory-based testing technologies including next generation sequencing, CRISPR and integrated microfluidic chips that could dramatically increase testing capacity and throughput while reducing the time to receive test results. Three technologies use platforms to provide nucleic acid and viral antigen tests that can give rapid results at the point of care, such as offices, manufacturing facilities, childcare centers, nursing homes and schools. Additionally, some of the tests offer more convenient sampling, such as saliva testing.
“The RADx initiative has enabled some of the nation’s most creative biomedical device inventors to ramp up development of their testing technologies at unprecedented speed,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. “The innovations selected to date represent the diverse types of promising technologies that will serve the nation’s testing needs.”