Our history

LifeArc, formerly known as MRC Technology, evolved from the government funded Medical Research Council (MRC) where we focused on commercial exploitation of intellectual property arising from MRC units. We also engaged in collaborative research with industrial partners.

As an MRC Unit, our growth was restricted as we were subject to central government financial and accounting arrangements. To overcome this we set up as an independent company on 18 March 1992 and then registered as a charity in England and Wales on 17 November 1992.

Our success spurred the launch of a Scotland office in Edinburgh in 1995. This site became the Centre for Diagnostics Development in January 2014.

In 2005 the Drug Discovery Group was created to progress early stage molecular targets emerging from academic research towards clinical benefit. It was re-named Centre for Therapeutics Discovery (CTD) in 2009.

In April 2016 we relocated our drug discovery laboratories and some corporate functions to new bespoke labs and offices at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst. The Edinburgh team also expanded their diagnostics research capability and moved to a bigger site at Nine, Edinburgh BioQuarter in May 2017.

MRC Technology became LifeArc in June 2017. Our new name better describes what we do: being the arc or bridge between the best medical science and delivering much needed treatments for patients, as well as our independence.

Landmarks along the way

1997: Humanised our first monoclonal antibodies which was marketed and led to the approval of Herceptin, a treatment for breast cancer and Humira, a medication for rheumatoid arthritis.

2006: We humanised the antibody pembrolizumab for Organon. Organon was acquired by Schering-Plough Corporation in March 2007, who was in turn acquired by Merck (known as MSD outside of the US) in November 2009. Now marketed by MSD as Keytruda®, the drug is used to treat various cancers.

2016: Our medium term financial future was secured when a proportion of Keytruda® royalty income was sold for £115.6M. The money enabled a revision of our strategy and the ability to fund more collaborations and science projects directly.

2017: Became LifeArc.