This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by UKRI. The competition is part of the COVID-19 National Core Studies (NCS) programme. The programmes’ objective is to address key research questions in support of the UK government’s response to COVID-19.

The aim of this competition is to develop effective assay system approaches to measuring human cellular immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 natural infection or vaccines, to improve clinical management and vaccine deployment.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject of a separate, possible competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

Projects can range in size up to total costs of £700,000, inclusive of VAT and between 1 to 12 months duration. Projects must:

  • start on 01 October 2021
  • finish by 31 September 2022
  • last between 1 to 12 months.

To lead a project, you can:

Contracts will be awarded only to a single legal entity. We are looking for proposals that involve industrial and academic institutions as the lead and subcontractors. This work will still be the responsibility of the main contractor.

Scope

The aim of this competition is to develop effective approaches to measuring human cellular immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 natural infection or vaccines, to improve clinical management and vaccine deployment.

Assays that both qualitatively and quantitatively measure the antibodies that recognise and neutralise SARS-CoV-2 are already available. Assays to measure cellular immune responses rapidly and reproducibly are more limited.

Your project must develop a novel assay system that can define the magnitude and profile of T-cell immune responses to SARS-CoV-2. Where it can be justified, other cellular responses, including B cell and innate cell responses, may be of interest.

Your project can focus on assays that work in a clinical or laboratory setting, whilst considering the ease, speed and reproducibility of sample preparation. Assays that use whole blood rather than requiring complex cell separation protocols would be a priority.

Your project must:

  • have a defined and justified intended use (research, clinical or diagnostic) for the assay
  • identify, justify and if required validate the biomarkers or cellular characteristics you propose to measure
  • develop or evaluate a sample preparation and assay format able to sample and measure the biomarkers or cellular characteristics with the required performance, test procedure and operational characteristics for the intended use

An online briefing will be held at 11.30am on Tuesday 4th May: click here for the joining link.

You may also be interested in KTN’s briefing workshop on 15th April for the National Core Studies Immunity programme initiative: Next generation assays to assess cellular immunity against SARS-CoV-2: click here for details and to register. A recording of the event will be available at the same link soon after 15th April.

For any queries, contact the KTN Health team.