3M and MIT researchers have joined forces to develop a new rapid diagnostic test that detects the coronavirus and produces accurate results within minutes.

Following a thorough review by an expert panel, the US National Institute of Health (NIH) has chosen the rapid Covid-19 test for accelerated development and commercialisation support.

NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has also added the test to its Covid-19 diagnostics initiative, dubbed Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Tech (RADx Tech) program.

3M chief technology officer and senior vice president John Banovetz said: “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.

“This is another step demonstrating 3M’s leadership in the fight against COVID-19. We are seeking to improve the speed, accessibility and affordability of testing for the virus, a major step in helping to prevent its spread.”

The diagnostic test will leverage 3M’s expertise in biomaterials and bioprocessing

The diagnostic test could be administered at the point-of-care, to detect viral antigens and provide highly accurate results within minutes through a paper-based device, without needing to send the samples to labs for testing.

The advanced diagnostic device would leverage 3M’s deep technological expertise in biomaterials and bioprocessing along with the company’s expertise in global medical device manufacturing.

MIT department of chemical Engineering professor Hadley Sikes is leading the research team working on the diagnostic test, while scientists, manufacturing and regulatory experts from 3M’s corporate research laboratories and health care business group are leading the company’s team.

The Sikes lab is said to be specialised in the creation and development of molecular technologies for improved performance of rapid, cellulose-based protein tests.

Sikes added: “There is a pressing need for a highly scalable rapid test. 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.

“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.”