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LifeArc announces £10m funding call for new chronic respiratory infection therapies

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LifeArc is committing £10m to fund up to five collaborative projects that seek to repurpose existing therapies and compounds as new treatments for bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.

The collaboration opportunity is the first major funding call announced as part of LifeArc’s new £100m Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge to accelerate scientific innovation for people living with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.

An estimated 300,000 people across the UK have bronchiectasis[i] – a devastating chronic lung condition that causes excess mucus to build up in the lungs causing frequent coughing, breathing difficulties and leaving people vulnerable to infection, flare-ups and permanent lung damage. There is currently no licensed treatment for bronchiectasis.

There are over 10,000 people living with cystic fibrosis in the UK alone.[ii] While there have been significant advances in treatment in recent years, infections continue to cause massive disruption to people’s lives and can be difficult to treat. People living with CF spend several weeks in hospital each year on average receiving emergency treatment and need to travel to hospital frequently for regular check-ups.[iii]

This £10m funding call aims to identify existing drugs or compounds that can be rapidly repurposed as treatments for people living with bronchiectasis and CF.

Dr Catherine Kettleborough, who leads the LifeArc Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge, said: “Repurposing an existing drug or compound is a faster way of getting new treatments to patients. With their safety profile already established, repurposed drugs can be available within years instead of the decades it can take to develop entirely new therapies.

“We’re looking for proposed solutions that target the vicious cycle of infection, inflammation and lung-damage which ideally have broad potential benefits for people with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis. We particularly welcome novel approaches and innovative models that will ensure patients benefit from new treatments quickly.”

This opportunity is open to consortia comprising academic, government and industry organisations anywhere in the world, with a lead partner based in the UK. Interested groups are invited to submit an expression of interest by 15 February 2023. A two-stage process will be used to select projects. Successful projects will be announced in July 2023. Projects must commence by December 2023.

This funding call is informed by an online workshop with people living with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis and leading researchers from across the UK held in May 2022. The workshop identified a range of opportunities to repurpose existing drugs and compounds, which can be found in this report: Chronic lung inflammation: Research perspectives and priorities for drug repurposing (PDF-522kb)

In October, LifeArc and the Medical Research Council published an online toolkit to guide researchers through their repurposing journey.

Read more about this opportunity.

Media contact

Hannah Severyn

Head of Media and PR at LifeArc

[i] British Lung Foundation ‘Bronchiectasis statistics’ https://statistics.blf.org.uk/bronchiectasis

[ii] Cystic Fibrosis Trust, UK Cystic Fibrosis Registry Annual Data Report 2020. https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk/the-work-we-do/uk-cf-registry/reporting-and-resources

[iii] Cystic fibrosis accounts for 9,500 hospital admissions and over 100,000 hospital bed days a year. See https://statistics.blf.org.uk/cystic-fibrosis

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