NIH RADx Tech to tackle development of at-home COVID-19 tests with improved accessibility for users

Press Releases
February 17, 2022
Patricia Wiley

The National Institutes of Health’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech program is working to identify necessary elements of at-home COVID-19 diagnostic test kits that may be used independently by people with disabilities. Current diagnostic kits, now being manufactured in the millions per day, cannot be used without assistance by some Americans.

“In their current form, at-home test kits can be difficult to use unassisted by individuals with visual or motor impairments,” said NIH Acting Director Larry Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. “We are working at full speed to address this challenge so that more Americans have access to home testing, a key mitigation tool to stop the spread of COVID-19.”  

Members of the RADx network will consult with experts from NIH, other federal agencies and national organizations who represent communities in need of accessible tests. The network, which includes hundreds of bioengineers and experts from the medical diagnostic manufacturing community, has produced over a billion COVID-19 tests in the U.S. to date. This effort seeks both short- and long-term solutions to improve at-home test accessibility.

“I have seen our community rise to the challenge presented by the global pandemic to build a diagnostics infrastructure that brings tests into the homes of Americans,” said Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and head of RADx Tech. “The next step is to improve home test kits so that more people can test independently.”

To inform the modification or development of more accessible tests, RADx Tech experts will work with manufacturers to address device design, packaging, and modes of instruction, among other challenges. They will consider possibilities for rapid modifications to tests that are now authorized for emergency use and future development of at-home diagnostics. The NIH RADx initiative has responded to the critical testing needs of the pandemic and will leverage the existing infrastructure to accomplish this challenge on an accelerated timeline.

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About the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) initiative: The RADx initiative was launched on April 29, 2020, to speed innovation in the development, commercialization, and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing. The initiative has four programs: RADx Tech, RADx Advanced Technology Platforms, RADx Underserved Populations and RADx Radical. It leverages the existing NIH Point-of-Care Technology Research Network. The RADx initiative partners with federal agencies, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, Department of Defense, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Learn more about the RADx initiative and its programs: https://www.nih.gov/radx.

About the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB): NIBIB’s mission is to improve health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. The Institute is committed to integrating the physical and engineering sciences with the life sciences to advance basic research and medical care. NIBIB supports emerging technology research and development within its internal laboratories and through grants, collaborations, and training. More information is available at the NIBIB website: https://www.nibib.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit https://www.nih.gov/.

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