COVID-19 Virus-Sensing Platform Call from NIH

Tuesday, 11 August, 2020

This emergency FOA from the NIH provides an expedited funding mechanism as part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Radical (RADx-rad) initiative.

This request for applications will support the early stage development of an innovative platform that integrates bio-sensing with touchscreen or other digital devices to achieve detection and tracing of SARS-CoV-2 in real-time. Projects are expected to demonstrate proof-of-concept of SARS-CoV-2 detection with high sensitivity and specificity, sensor functionality, and automatic detection by touchscreen or other digital devices.

The proof-of-concept applications responding to this FOA should focus on innovative approaches and optimal strategies for virus sensing, signal conversion, and detection. The projects are expected to be built upon rigorous scientific rationale, to establish the technical feasibility, and to achieve the following four objectives within the two-year project period:

  1. Identify aptamers or other biorecognition elements that bind to SARS-CoV-2 or its signature molecules with high specificity and affinity. Examine how various conditions (pH, ion concentrations, temperature, hydrophobicity, etc) may modulate the binding sensitivity and specificity. Introduce necessary modifications to improve virus binding.
  2. Validate the functionality of aptamers or other biorecognition elements immobilised on the virus sensing and transduction material (VSTM). Evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the target binding.
  3. Establish and validate the transduction mechanism (electrochemical, optical, etc) that can effectively convert virus binding to the signal that can be captured by a touchscreen or other digital device. Determine the quantitative relationship of the signal conversion.
  4. Validate efficiency of detection for the intended use and establish sensitivity, cross reactivity, and the detection limit.

To achieve the goal of this FOA, the proposed project needs to be milestone driven and carried out by a multidisciplinary team with complementary expertise.

NIH intends to fund an estimate of 10 awards, corresponding to a total of $10 million, for fiscal years 2020, and 2021.

Application budgets are limited to $300,000 in direct costs annually.

NIH funding streams are open to domestic and non-domestic organisations both inside and outside the United States. The types of organisations eligible to apply includes public or private non-profit or for-profit organisations, including - but not limited to - public and private higher education institutions, hospitals and businesses.

The FOA opens to application on 15 August 2020 and has a single deadline of 15 September 2020 (17:00 local time of applicant organisation).

 

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