NIH invests almost $249M in 7 COVID-19 test technologies

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is touting the results of its "Shark Tank" approach to spurring development in COVID-19 testing technologies, with $248.7 million invested in a variety of different methods that promise rapid results.

In a July 31 press briefing, the NIH discussed seven companies that have received grants for COVID-19 tests through grants from its NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, which it says evaluates technology in a similar way as the reality business investment TV show Shark Tank. A range of tests are in development and the award winners include lab-based as well as point-of-care (POC) products. In a statement, the NIH said that the crop of new tests could increase the number of available tests that can be conducted each day by millions, perhaps as early as September. Funding derives from a $1.5 billion appropriation from Congress in April to support new test technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following companies and products are the recipients:

  • Fluidigm, (San Francisco): Biomark high-definition microfluidics platform for processing thousands of SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests (notably, saliva samples)
  • Ginkgo Bioworks, (Boston): Next-generation sequencing technologies for processing thousands of tests at the same time
  • Helix OpCo (San Mateo, CA): Kits for collection of nasal swabs
  • Mammoth Biosciences, (South San Francisco, CA): SARS-CoV-2 DNA Endonuclease-Targeted CRISPR Trans Reporter (DETECTR) assay
  • Mesa Biotech (San Diego): Accula SARS-CoV-2 handheld reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) POC with single-use cartridge
  • Quidel (San Diego): Sofia SARS Antigen fluorescent immunoassay (FIA) POC test kit
  • Talis Biomedical (Menlo Park, CA): Talis One COVID-19 POC with multiplexed cartridge
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