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IMI Chooses Five Diagnostic Projects as Part of €72M European COVID-19 Initiative

NEW YORK – The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) said on Tuesday that it will support eight projects related to the development of new tests and treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2.

The IMI announced the call in February with an initial budget of €45 million ($49 million) but raised the total funding amount to €72 million. The initiative is a European Commission-led private-public partnership that supports the development of diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.

After launching the call, the IMI received 144 proposals, 120 of which met its criteria for evaluation. Of those, eight projects were ultimately selected, five of which are related to diagnostics, three to therapeutics.

The five diagnostics-related projects are COVID-Red, Decision, Dragon, Krono, and Rapid-COVID. COVID-Red is focused on developing remote early detection tools for COVID-19 and is led by researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. According to IMI, it aims to combine expertise in clinical epidemiology with digital devices such as wearables and mobile applications to detect cases early so that they can be prioritized for further testing.

Decision, led by GNA Biosolutions in Germany, is working on a minituarized disposable molecular diagnostics platform for combatting coronavirus infections. Belgium's Oncoradiomics is leading Dragon, which will create AI imaging-based diagnostic tools that enable patient stratification, follow-up, and future preparedness for coronavirus pandemics.

Krono, led by UK-based BG Research, seeks to develop a portable, point-of-need platform that can detect infections directly from a nasal swab in under 40 minutes. GeneFirst, another UK company, is the leader on Rapid-COVID, which is focused on delivering robust automation and point-of-care identification of COVID-19. Partners in Rapid-COVID aim to develop a test that can simultaneously detect SARS-CoV-2 as well as 30 other common respiratory bacteria and viruses, according to the IMI.

All together, 94 organizations are taking part in the eight selected projects. IMI Executive Director Pierre said the success of the call shows the initiative is "well placed to rapidly mobilize top people from diverse organizations to tackle emerging threats to public health." More information about the selected projects is available on the initiative's website.