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3M is developing paper COVID-19 test with goal of giving accurate results in minutes

This test could be administered at the point-of-care and wouldn't need to be sent to a lab to get the result.

Maplewood-based 3M and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have teamed up to develop a COVID-19 test that can give results in minutes. 

This paper-based test could be administered at the point-of-care and provide an accurate result quickly without needing to send the test to a lab, which is the case for most COVID-19 tests, a news release says.

“There is a pressing need for a highly scalable rapid test,” MIT professor Hadley Sikes, who is leading the research team, said in the release. “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."

MPR News spoke with project lead Dr. Cathy Tarnowski, who said the test looks for proteins that can be found in or on the virus, and currently they're trying to solve the problem of which bodily fluid sample, such as a nasal swab or saliva, to use for the test, which will determine how accurate the test is. 

The test is still early stages of the development process, but the federal National Institute of Health (NIH) picked it for accelerated development and commercialization support following review by an expert panel. As part of NIH's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Tech (RADx Tech) program, the project received $500,000 and could get additional funding in later stages of development. 

"Joining forces with 3M and the NIH has greatly enhanced our collective efforts toward swift detection of the virus, and a potential tool to help mitigate and contain this public health crisis," Sikes said.

The research team is prepared to work with RADx Tech to demonstrate the test's capability and to deploy it as quickly as possible, the release says, adding that manufacturing equipment can be scaled up to produce millions of tests per day.

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