3M (NYSE:MMM) announced today that it is working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers to develop a paper-based, rapid test to detect the virus that causes COVID-19, with the potential to manufacture millions of tests per day.
The test would detect viral antigens and deliver “highly accurate results within minutes” via a paper-based device, according to the Maplewood, Minn.-based company. It could be administered at the point-of-care and would not need to be sent to labs for testing.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) selected the rapid COVID-19 test for accelerated development and commercialization support, after review by an expert panel, 3M added. Researchers received $500,000 in validation funding from the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Tech (RADx Tech) program, an aggressively-paced COVID-19 diagnostics initiative from the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
Researchers are also working to determine whether the test is feasible to mass manufacture. The 3M team is led by scientists, manufacturing and regulatory experts from its corporate research laboratories and health care business group. The MIT team is led by Hadley Sikes of the college’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
“We are excited to collaborate with Professor Hadley Sikes and the team at MIT. Our approach is ambitious, but our collective expertise can make a difference for people around the world, so we owe it to ourselves and society to give it our best effort,” said 3M CTO John Banovetz in a news release. “We are seeking to improve the speed, accessibility and affordability of testing for the virus, a major step in helping to prevent its spread.”
Working with 3M and the NIH has greatly enhanced efforts toward swift detection of the virus, and a potential tool to help mitigate and contain the public health crisis, according to Sikes.
“There is a pressing need for a highly scalable rapid test,” she said. “We are working with our colleagues at 3M to overcome the challenges to move this research from lab to impact, and find an innovative path forward to manufacture it at scale. ”
RADx Tech’s phased innovation is initially supporting a 4-week period of intense research to demonstrate the test concept works and can be commercialized on a large scale. The project is eligible for further funding from the government program, according to 3M.