The Baker-Polito Administration announced Friday that more than $1.5 million has been awarded to four projects that seek to increase testing capacity and provide solutions for coronavirus testing.
The funding is through the Accelerating Coronavirus Testing Solutions (A.C.T.S.) Program, designed and administered by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which supports projects focused on two core areas: accelerating the development of at-home or point-of-care testing methods that are simpler and faster, and new and innovative solutions that address existing supply chain bottlenecks.
Among the four initial A.C.T.S. awardees are two companies: Framingham-based Kephera Diagnostics and Wellesley-based Virex Health; and two research hospitals: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“We are committed to continuing to find ways to expand testing innovations and solutions as we continue to fight COVID-19,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I applaud the efforts of these companies and institutions, and I look forward to adding new and innovative solutions and continuing to work together to combat the pandemic.
The MLSC launched a Request for Proposals for A.C.T.S. this past October, open to for-profit companies and not-for-profit institutions submitting proposals that directly address the critical, near-term impact through innovative solutions that would support the process of safely reopening the Massachusetts economy. The MLSC brought together an external advisory panel of experts from academia and industry, including entrepreneurs, clinicians, scientists, clinical diagnostic lab managers, and public health experts, to assist in reviewing the proposals.
“While there remain many unknowns yet to be fully explored, as we work in the present and look to the future, we do know testing will be vital to ensuring continued protection from COVID-19,” said MLSC President and CEO Kenneth Turner. “The mission of the MLSC remains more important than ever. We will continue to support novel innovations in the battle against this deadly virus, which matches the ongoing work of the MLSC to support the life sciences ecosystem and expand the capabilities of Massachusetts companies and research institutions.”
While Massachusetts has had a number of successes in supporting initial manufacturing needs through the Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT), the commonwealth has struggled with bottlenecks in testing. A.C.T.S. seeks to identify innovative solutions that can expand the breadth and depth of testing occurring in the commonwealth.
Increasing the number and accessibility of testing methods can provide new options and opportunities to testing centers, as well as alleviate certain costs at testing sites for equipment related to administering and processing tests. Novel testing modalities identified have the ability to provide alternatives to current testing stopgaps, expand the number of settings tests can be administered, and provide further validation of tests already available.
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