July 14, 2020 / 11:10 AM / a month ago

3M, MIT partner to make rapid COVID-19 antigen test

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT./File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. industrial conglomerate 3M Co (MMM.N) has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a rapid antigen test for COVID-19, the company said on Tuesday.

The test would produce results within minutes and could be administered on a low-cost, paper-based device, similar to a home pregnancy test, that could be delivered at the point of care.

“We are seeking to improve the speed, accessibility and affordability of testing for the virus, a major step in helping to prevent its spread,” said John Banovetz, the chief technology officer at 3M.

The research effort is being aided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, which is running a project called Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) that funds the development of new testing technologies in academia and business.

The program aims to have the new tests available for use by late summer or early fall.

Antigen tests scan for proteins that can be found on or inside a virus. They can detect the virus very quickly and can potentially be produced at a lower cost than other tests.

3M says it could scale manufacturing to millions of tests per day once it is developed.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell; Editing by Leslie Adler

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