Deadline: 29 May 2020
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), through its Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) Program, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), is seeking proposals for the development of local diagnostics and reagents for COVID-19.
The aim of this RFA is to support the development of local capacity to supply reagents for existing gold standard COVID-19 testing as well as to offer rapid alternatives for the direct detection of the virus.
Proposals must address one or more of the following focus areas and should aim to deliver functional protypes within 4-6 months:
- The development and validation of a locally resourced supply chain for components and/or kits for safe viral RNA extraction for RT-PCR or sample processing for antigen-based testing.
- The development and validation of locally resourced nucleic acid amplification-based assay reagents/kits for detection of SARS-CoV-2, including the necessary assay controls, enzymes and primers.
- The development of novel tests that can rapidly detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, preferably at the point of care. These do not include tests for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies but could include, for example (but are not limited to):
- Rapid technologies/formats for RT-PCR-based testing
- Alternatives to PCR testing that also detect the presence of the viral genetic material
- Rapid tests that detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins and/or virus particles.
- The RFA is aimed at components/tests/technologies for which development has already been initiated and has preferably progressed past proof of concept stage, either specifically for COVID-19 or for other diseases. For the development of local reagents, preference will be given to proposals that:
- Are collaborative and bring together all the required expertise and capability to manufacture full kits – Aim to deliver kits for clinical validation within a maximum of 4-6 months
- Will deliver kits that can be used on standard, open PCR-based systems used for COVID testing
- Include partners able to supply reagents and/or kits under the necessary certification for diagnostic use, i.e. accredited manufacture partners.
- For the development of rapid tests, preference will be given to proposals that:
- Aim to deliver a functional prototype for clinical validation within a maximum of 4-6 months
- Are based on technology platforms that have previously received regulatory approval for other diseases to reduce the regulatory timeframe
- Repurpose existing proven diagnostic technologies for COVID-19
- Include partners able to supply the tests under the necessary certification for diagnostic use
- Promise to deliver results within a maximum of 4 hours
- Are rapidly scalable in terms of manufacture and deployment
- Are affordable and portable, i.e. preferably do not require expensive processing equipment, readers etc.
- This is an open call for proposals from researchers based at South African universities, science councils (including the SAMRC) and other organisations, including:
- Any institution approved by the Minister of Higher Education Science and Technology for NRF funding
- Locally registered not-for profit research organisations whose primary purpose is to conduct research and/or product development – such entities may be subject to due diligence before the award of funds
- South African private/ for-profit small and medium enterprises involved in developing and manufacturing diagnostics and/or components – such entities may be subject to due diligence before the award of funds
- Foreign entities are not eligible to apply for funding through this RFA but may, in some cases, be included as collaborators if they provide a service, technology or capability that is not available among the project partners or among other eligible organizations.
For more information, visit https://www.samrc.ac.za/request-for-applications/south-african-medical-research-council-department-science-and-innovation