LifeArc exists to help transform early stage, promising science into medical interventions that improve human health and benefit society. As an independent, self-funded charity, we have been bridging the gaps in biomedical innovation for 25 years. We seek out innovation, primarily in academia, with significant potential for patient benefits. We help scientists progress their discoveries along the journey to becoming a medicine, diagnostic or intervention. We help advance this innovation through our own lab-based research, the support and advice we provide to our partners and the funding we make available.
How we do it
We collaborate with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. We nurture talent, developing expertise and skills in our people through accredited training and project experience while also helping to develop others through our fellowship and industrial placement schemes. We develop data-driven solutions to navigate the path to the patient.
Our four impact areas
We have set out four categories for measuring our impact. These reflect not just our strategic priorities but the breadth of our work in translation science, advice and funding.
Because the process from lab to patient can involve many parties that don’t directly connect with patients, we look broadly at how our work contributes to improving patients’ lives. Taken together, these four areas of impact illustrate how we are transforming the way diseases are identified and treated, creating life-changing breakthroughs for patients and benefits for society:
1. Research translation
Our core purpose is to translate new research into new products, devices and services, taking them closer to the point where they begin to change patients’ lives for the better. For research to benefit patients, it must ultimately be translated from the original scientific concept into new products, devices or services.
This can take many years and significant investment in resources. For LifeArc, our role in advancing this research translation can involve: developing new diagnostic or therapeutic products, to the point where they can be licensed to third parties for commercialisation; creating or protecting intellectual property for life sciences innovations; and providing funding and advice for spin-off companies.
- TB-MBLA (Molecular Bacterial Load Assay) ready for field test
- Idylla platform access agreed with Biocartis
- 1 new compound out-licensed (ULK) for development
- 2 MRC spin-outs, PepGen and InFlectis, were supported in accessing further funding
- 114 patents granted to client companies with the support of LifeArc
- 600 COVID-19 antibody candidates fast-tracked through testing for UK BIA Antibody Taskforce
2. Stimulating new research
One of our key strategies is to stimulate new research through funding and partnerships, ensuring that key areas of patient need receive the focus and practical support that would not otherwise be accessible to them.
We stimulate research into the development of new treatments through funding, collaborations and partnerships.
We provide funding and advisory support to research projects and to early-stage businesses, providing essential support for innovation into key areas of underserved patient need and helping to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Our scope of facilitation includes: leveraging our own and our collaborators’ knowledge and resources, to fill research gaps and develop new patient interventions; and investing for impact, by being prepared to take risks on funding innovations with significant potential for improving patient wellbeing.
- Avvinity Therapeutics co-funded with Future Fund
- Two gene therapy start-ups funded through Seed Fund
- Agreement signed with the Medical Research Council (MRC) to fund Gene Therapy Innovation Hubs from 2021
- 10 companies funded through KQ Labs
- 13 projects funded by the Philanthropic Fund
- 14 drug repurposing projects funded via COVID Fund
- 7 new companies funded by the Seed Fund
3. Knowledge generation
Our research and translational activity enables us to generate new science and health knowledge, expanding the range of life sciences knowledge and opening up new opportunities for future innovation. Our own lab-based scientific research, platforms and diagnostics work accelerates the progress of innovative scientific discoveries and technologies in areas of significant need.
Our scientific research stimulates and supports innovation, both internally and for others, by increasing the pool of life sciences knowledge, publishing papers, presenting at public events, making research tools and methods available to researchers and sharing research databases and models for use by others.
- KQL Accelerator co-funded with 10 start-ups identified for support
- Sector data needs workshop with Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC)
- 32 presentations, 12 papers and nine posters delivered
- 13 published papers, enabled to date by access to LifeArc compound tools
4. Developing future scientists
We operate a range of programmes to develop the human capacity to carry out and enable research, helping to ensure future generations of scientists while instilling in them an understanding of the translation process.
The future of life sciences research depends on having a sufficient flow of diverse talent into the industry.
There is a pressing need for people who are excited to bring new ideas to life and passionate about improving the lives of patients and the people who care for them. We therefore nurture our own talent through accredited training and project experience, and help to develop others through our fellowships, mentoring and industrial placement schemes.
LifeArc enables both current and future scientists to acquire and develop specialist skills, primarily through: our industrial placement programme for undergraduates; our AUTM and Technology Transfer Fellowship programmes; support for postdoctoral research projects; support for research and development facilities, such as our 2020 commitment to support a network of Gene Therapy Innovation Hubs; and our participation in the Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador programme, funded by the National Science Foundation, to educate school-age scientists.
- 14 projects supported via repurposing call
- Funding of CRUSH project
- 6 internal projects identified for funding
- 600 antibody candidates fast-tracked through testing for UK BIA Antibody Taskforce
- 118 drug reports and five landscape reviews produced for UK Government Therapeutics Taskforce
Measurable impact in developing future scientists
- 12 students commenced 14 their placement year for science careers in 2020
- 1 industrial fellowship awarded to a LifeArc scientist by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 as one of the UK’s ten most talented young researchers
- 14 researchers commenced one of LifeArc’s fellowship programmes
- 2 postdoctoral fellowship positions created at Cleveland Clinic
Exploring new approaches to drug discovery
LifeArc’s scientists have been working on a fresh approach to drug discovery, using a parallel high-throughput application to significantly improve fragment-based screening. This will potentially enable researchers into antibacterial therapeutics to prioritise and select new targets more effectively.
How to kill a virus: LifeArc’s role in shaping the UK’s COVID-19 response
As part the COVID-19 Therapeutics Taskforce, LifeArc provided analysis on over 100 drug candidates and biologic pathways to support the RECOVERY trial, the world’s largest randomised controlled clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments.
Collaboration leads to promising new approach for Alzheimer’s disease
A team from LifeArc and Göttingen University has developed a new approach to intervene in early-stage treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and demonstrated its therapeutic potential in mouse models.
Rising to the challenge of COVID-19
Success in identifying a potential life-saving intervention for COVID-19 in fewer than 12 months was the result of a collaboration between hospitals, researchers, patients and funding organisations around the world.
Developing the next generation of technology transfer specialists
Technology transfer is a highly trained and multidisciplinary scientific endeavour, providing the crucial link between academic research and commercial development.