Application overview and timeline

Opportunity status:Closed
Total fund available for the initiative:£1,000,000
Maximum award: £150,000
Opening date:7 December 2022
Closing date: 27 February 2023
Review of initial proposals:w/c 20 March 2023
Anticipated final decision:w/c 26 June 2023
Anticipated project start:From July 2023


Earlier diagnosis is key to enabling people with MND to be recruited to clinical trials earlier, which in turn can increase the chances of trial success, and therefore the prospect of developing new disease modifying treatments.

For people with MND, it takes on average twelve months from the onset of symptoms to receive a definitive diagnosis of disease. This timescale has not meaningfully shortened over the past two decades and is consistent across several healthcare systems globally.

A central ambition of LifeArc’s MND Translational Challenge is to reduce the diagnostic delay experienced by people with MND.

Following consultation with clinicians and the MND community, we have identified the period from visiting a GP/primary care physician to referral to a neurologist, as key to reducing the diagnostic delay for MND.

The presentation of MND is highly insidious, leading to variable delays in referral, in some cases of up to six months. Interventions/tests that could indicate a marker for neurological degeneration or damage, could be instrumental in accelerating referral to a specialist and hastening the diagnosis of disease.

What we are looking for

The primer fund is intended to support projects which seek to develop solutions to accelerate MND diagnosis, with potential to be deployed from the point of visiting a GP/primary care physician to referral to a neurologist.

Proposals will benefit from input from LifeArc’s in-house translational scientists as well as potential follow-on funding and/or collaboration.


Proposals are welcomed from academic and industry organisations based in the UK or abroad.

Scope of proposals

We are seeking innovative proposals in the following areas:

  • Point of care diagnostic biomarkers, i.e. a fluid, blood test or urine test that could be detected in the periphery (not a spinal tap or PET scans), that could highlight the possibility of MND.
  • Digital markers of early symptoms. This could include linguistic analysis of symptoms which predict ALS, e.g. words that patients reported in patient notes or any other digital intervention.
  • Algorithmic approaches to detect changes in standard blood work that could be indicative of MND and/or neuronal damage.

As a minimum, projects are expected to demonstrate scientific rationale with data supporting hypothesis for solution development. Proposals should consider how access to clinical samples, or appropriate patient data, will be obtained.


The primer fund will help you strengthen the evidence that the solution you’re looking at is associated with disease; and the basis for its deployment between the point of visiting a GP/primary care physician to referral to a neurologist. Projects are supported with a view to embarking on a potential larger collaborative relationship with LifeArc with more substantial funding.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

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