FAST-MoPPS stands for »Virtual design development and practical testing of system and cartridge components for ultra-fast and sensitive PCR on-site detection«. To date, PCR testing in the laboratory has been the most reliable method for detecting pandemic viral infections such as Covid-19. However, it usually takes whole days for the test result to reach the infected person.
Point of Care Instead of Lab
The Fraunhofer Institute for Microtechnology and Microsystems IMM in Mainz and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern want to accelerate this process. In cooperation, they are developing a test design that enables the test to be manufactured cost-effectively, allows it to be used on a mass scale, and ensures meaningful test results. The special feature: The tests do not have to be taken to a central laboratory, but are used and evaluated in the hospital directly on the ward, in the practice or pharmacy, i.e. at the so-called point of care.
Promotion With ERFE Funds
A good 1.3 million euros from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF-REACT-EU) will continue to flow into the project, which has been running since July 2022, until June 2023. Daniel Stich, Ministerial Director at the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science and Health, presented the funding to Prof. Dr. Michael Maskos, Director of the Fraunhofer IMM, and to Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Küfer, Head of the Division »Optimization« at Fraunhofer ITWM.
Fraunhofer IMM has a cobot – a collaborative robot that pipettes the samples into the PCR devices – and primarily contributes its expertise in laboratory diagnostics. At Fraunhofer ITWM, the focus is on the simulation and optimization of the processes: »We map the PoC device and the underlying bioprocess with a thermal simulation; in this way, we work out optimal parameters in order to find a good balance of material and consumption costs as well as process time,« Küfer describes the part played by the mathematicians from Kaiserslautern.