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How to kill a virus: LifeArc’s role in shaping the UK’s COVID-19 response

In 2020 the UK Government, supported by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health and Research, launched the COVID-19 Therapeutics Taskforce to co-ordinate national trials into potential treatments. The Taskforce launched RECOVERY, the world’s largest randomised controlled clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments, which identified the benefits of dexamethasone as a cheap and readily-available anti-inflammatory drug.

The Taskforce produced results through innovative trial designs studying multiple medicines in parallel trials. A major challenge was selecting the most appropriate drug to investigate given the sheer number of candidates. This is why the taskforce turned to LifeArc’s Opportunity Assessment Group (OAG).

OAG’s quick and efficient due diligence had already proven their value in LifeArc’s drug repurposing call. The team’s holistic approach spanned analysis of scientific rationale, drug profile, competitive landscape and the logistics of sourcing and distribution, ensuring an in-depth and comprehensive drug review.

Within weeks, the OAG team provided analysis on over 100 drug candidates and biologic pathways. This was vital in helping the Taskforce to accelerate promising treatments through to the clinic in record time.

Alison Cave, ISCF Challenge Director at Innovate UK, highlighted the importance of OAG’s support: “The LifeArc team have been extremely accommodating around short timescales…without their support we could not have delivered the due diligence work to the timescales that the COVID pandemic demanded”.

This work has already produced tangible results: three interventions reviewed by the team have since been included in the ACCORD and RECOVERY trials. LifeArc’s contribution to this vital initiative highlights both the impact of our holistic review processes and the power of collaboration in pursuit of a common goal.

Download our Annual Report 2020 (PDF – 8MB)

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