European mobilisation for improved COVID-19 diagnostic testing
EIT Health meets pandemic with funding COVID-19 solutions with € 7 million
In a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to quickly develop efficient solutions, EIT Health will fund 15 new pan-European projects with potential to reach the market this year. Danish Technical University, Tartu University and Karolinska Institute are among the EIT Health Partners receiving project funding for improved diagnostic testing. The funding is one of the initiatives taken by EIT Health to meet the pandemics by using its strength as a network organisation.
EIT Health has announced funds of almost 7 million euros in the fight against COVID-19, which will be dedicated to 15 health innovation projects across Europe. The projects will focus on immediate and impactful solutions for better tools in navigating the pandemic.
Three Scandinavian Partners will receive funding for new, quickly developed solutions: the EIT Health Partners Technical University of Denmark, Tartu University and Karolinska Institute. In addition, four Scandinavian SME’s and two Danish hospitals will receive funding via the projects.
The project lead by the Technical University of Denmark, aims to improve diagnostic testing of the covid-19 virus by providing a faster, easier and more affordable option to healthcare providers, utilise a novel plasmonic strand-displacement amplification assay for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2.
The project lead by Tartu University aims to offer affordable and fast diagnostic testing outside of the clinic environment, through providing a solution for at home diagnostic testing, based on existing technology (used in the detection of influenza and sexually transmitted infections) in addition to a point of care single-use device.
The project where Karolinska Institute is participating, is developing a nanoporous based assay for the monitoring of COVID-19 patients, as well identification of immunised patients and asymptomatic carriers.
“In response to the pandemics, EIT Health was able to rapidly reallocate funds, launch a European call, and fund 14 new projects aiming for immediate solutions in the fight for navigating the pandemic”, says Erik Forsberg, the Managing Director of EIT Health Scandinavia.
“It is especially rewarding that two Scandinavian and Baltic Organizations that have upgraded to Core Partners of EIT Health last year, University of Tartu and Danish Technical University, are leading two of these projects”, Erik Forsberg continues.
“Since the current testing capacity is too low, health innovation plays a crucial role to improve the capacity. Given the fast spread of the COVID-19 virus, on-site testing will make a large difference. The new instrument-free technology developed by DTU and our collaboration partners can become a valuable tool for on-site testing, saving time and resources, allowing more people to be tested, and thus increasing the effectiveness of the society’s response to the pandemic,” says Jørgen Schøller, Head of Division at DTU Health Technology, and EIT Health Scandinavia Board Member.
The new COVID-19 project funding is only one of the initiatives developed by EIT Health in response to the pandemic. Maximising the use EIT Health’s strength as Europe’s largest network organisation within health, a matchmaking service has been set up, where Partners can use the vast network to find fast support, offer their own help, or find collaboration partners.
The 15 projects selected cover biotechnology, diagnostics, digital health and medtech, and will be run by 36 Partners. The projects will work directly with healthcare services, so that the solutions can be built in line with clinical needs and implemented without delay.
The projects, which will all be completed by the end of 2020, focus on:
- The creation of faster and more effective COVID-19 diagnostics;
- The development of immunity testing, allowing easing of isolation measures and allowing populations to return to work;
- Clinical triaging solutions so that healthcare providers can identify patients who require care in hospital versus those who can be managed at home;
- Home monitoring solutions so that healthcare professionals can closely monitor patients outside of the hospital environment
- Digital solutions for healthcare professional training, and data resources to improve patient management, prognosis and outcomes;
- Data-powered initiatives to identify biomarkers associated with the progression of COVID-19 and treatment response at early stages of the disease;
- Measures to reduce shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitary products and medical supplies.
The funded projects lead by Scandinavian Partners or with Scandinavian participation are all aiming for the optimisation of population screening and diagnosis:
- ‘PlasmonDetect’ led by Technical University of Denmark, will utilise novel plasmonic strand-displacement amplification assay for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2. The project aims to improve diagnostic testing of the virus by providing a faster, easier and more affordable option to healthcare providers. Other Scandinavian participants are Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Hvidovre Hospital, and PentaBase ApS, Denmark.
- ‘SDx SARS-CoV2’ led by the University of Tartu, Estonia, and including the Estonian-German company Self-Diagnostics GmbH, aims to provide a solution for at home diagnostic testing of individuals potentially infected with COVID-19. An assay kit for SARS-CoV-2 detection based on existing proprietary amplification technology (used in the detection of influenza and sexually transmitted infections) in addition to a proprietary point of care single-use device, the project aims to offer affordable and fast diagnostic testing outside of the clinic environment.
- ‘NanoDx COVID-19’ led by INSERM, France, with Karolinska Institute, Sweden as a Partner, will develop a nanoporous based next-generation assay for the monitoring of COVID-19 patients to support with the detection of worsening COVID-19 cases as well identification of immunised patients and asymptomatic carriers.
- ‘Certify.health’ led by Hospital Clinic de Barcelona (Spain), and with the Swedish start-ups and the companies FindOut Diagnostics AB and CareChain AB, will provide tests for COVID-19 immunity and issue digital immunity certificates to support with the safe return to everyday life for those no longer at risk of infection. Primarily focussed on healthcare workers, the solution will be interoperable and GDPR compliant, and will allow crucial care workers to return to work more quickly.