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€3 million EU grant for development of rapid coronavirus tests

MedUni Vienna takes on "Clinical and epidemiological studies" work package
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(Vienna, 09 April 2020) The European Union (EU) has allocated a grant of €3 million for the international "CORONADX" project, which is being led by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU/Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine). The aim of the project is to drive forward the development of effective and easy-to-use rapid tests for coronavirus. MedUni Vienna is taking the lead in Work Package 6, "Clinical and epidemiological studies" under the supervision of infectiologist Christoph Steininger from its Department of Medicine I. This working group will be allocated funding of around €290,000. The project has now been started and is scheduled to run for 36 months.

The aim of the project is to develop diagnostic tools for COVID-19 that can easily be used by less qualified medical personnel – e.g. on an aeroplane, on a cruise ship, on a car park or during home quarantine. A second line of research also aims to develop simple, rapid tests that can be performed with the minimum of technical equipment in hospitals, primary care centres or mobile laboratories. Development of these rapid tests will be accompanied by medical and epidemiological studies.

MedUni Vienna's work package, led by Christoph Steininger, includes investigating the diversity of coronaviruses in clinical samples and environmental samples. The infectiologist outlines the aims and tasks: "Choosing the correct strain of the virus is key to ensuring the reliability of rapid tests. Coronaviruses are capable of rapid genetic changes and so are the viral proteins that rapid tests need to detect. Rapid tests would no longer pick up viral proteins that were greatly modified. The task of this working group is therefore to develop its own methods for promptly identifying modified viral proteins, so that the rapid tests can be adapted, thus ensuring a high level of reliability."

Projekt CORONADX
Titel: „Three Rapid Diagnostic tests (Point-of-Care) for Coronavirus, improving epidemic preparedness, public health and socio-economic benefits.” Projektnummer bei der Europäischen Kommission: 101003562. Beteiligt sind Institutionen aus Dänemark, Österreich, Italien, China und Schweden.