LifeArc launches £10m COVID-19 clinical research fund

Image of seesaw with a lightbulb on the left and money on the right to show LifeArc launches £10m COVID-19 clinical research fund

LifeArc, a UK-based medical research charity, has created a £10m COVID-19 clinical research fund to support research to accelerate the development and testing of therapeutics that can be rapidly deployed to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. The charity is seeking applications from academics or companies that have molecules that could be repurposed or repositioned for use in COVID-19 patients

Explaining the urgency of the issue, Melanie Lee, Chief Executive of LifeArc said: “COVID-19 represents a global emergency. The development and manufacture of a vaccine is at least a year away. There is a clear, urgent need now for treatments that can reduce the mortality and morbidity rate. We have launched this research call to try to speed up the process of investigating potential treatments and so improve outcomes for patients.”

Development of novel molecules is not realistic in the timeframe, so the focus for applications will be from those looking to repurpose already available medicines licensed in other indications or for therapeutics in the late stages of development.

It is crucial that research funding is made available rapidly to increase the chance of getting an effective treatment available across the world during this pandemic.

Andrew Farquharson, Executive Director, Technology Transfer at LifeArc, said: “We are aware of a number of potential drugs where there is a scientific rationale for testing but no funding to do that. With this funding we aim to progress those therapeutics and we are looking for proposals that offer the best chance of quickly making a difference.”

LifeArc has more than 25 years’ experience progressing translational medical research. Research applications will be considered by an expert scientific panel using criteria which include the scientific rationale, deliverability of the project the time scale of 6 to 12 months and clarity on how to manufacture and reach patients with the drug. The call opens 20 March and will close on the 6 April. Funding decisions will be made by w/c 27 April.

This funding will form part of a national and international response from across the life sciences sector. Grants will be awarded rapidly and LifeArc is not looking for any financial return on these grants.

More about the funding call is available on the LifeArc website, with details of how to apply.