Today [9 May], Medicines Discovery Catapult and LifeArc, leading forces driving UK innovation in drug discovery, announce their strategic partnership.

The identification and development of novel biomarkers that detect efficacy and safety of novel drug molecules, which can be used in human trials, will be the focus of the partnership.

LifeArc has a growing portfolio of innovative therapeutic candidates across priority disease areas where there is high patient need. Medicines Discovery Catapult has established platforms and expertise in the discovery and validation of new biomarker approaches.

The partnership will use the expertise of both organisations to progress candidate molecules towards clinical evaluation with an optimised biomarker strategy. LifeArc will fund a select number of full-time employees, who will be embedded within the Catapult to provide strategic biomarker discovery and development.

Biomarkers play a fundamental role in improving our understanding of drugs, disease and drug-target interactions in patients. They are key to translating drugs from a pre-clinical to clinical setting, where they help define dosage, patient selection and treatment decisions. Whilst extensively used as tools to guide drug R&D in oncology, the potential to improve understanding of clinical efficacy, safety and patient segmentation across other areas remains to be fully tapped.

The new posts, funded initially for a three-year period, will combine LifeArc’s project expertise with Medicines Discovery Catapult’s translational drug development know-how and suite of state-of-the-art biomarker technologies. This includes; PET imaging, near infra-red imaging, Nanostring, molecular pathology, imaging informatics, MALDI, and digital spatial profiling.

In addition, LifeArc will fund a two-year industrial post-doctoral research position based in Medicines Discovery Catapult’s national laboratory at Alderley Park in Cheshire.

The new position will establish innovative Mass Spectrometry proteomics workflows relevant to drug discovery and improve the techniques and know-how available to both Medicines Discovery Catapult and LifeArc.

Ultimately, this collaboration will establish new proteomics approaches that can be applied to benefit the wider drug discovery community.

Dr Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer of Medicines Discovery Catapult, says:

“This landmark collaboration will bring together the expertise of two world-class, UK-based, leaders in collaborative approaches to drug discovery for the first time. To advance therapeutics closer to patients, LifeArc’s innovative therapeutic programmes will work together with Medicines Discovery Catapult’s state of the art biomarker discovery platform. LifeArc is renowned as an innovator in drug discovery, and this partnership is further endorsement of Medicine Discovery Catapult’s position as a leader in the creation of biomarker strategies, and the application of technology innovation in drug discovery.”

Catherine Kettleborough, Associate Director of LifeArc’s Centre for Therapeutics Discovery, says:

“This is an exciting opportunity to join forces with the Medicines Discovery Catapult to support and accelerate the translation of promising research into new health interventions. Additionally, the Post-doctoral fellowship position will facilitate the development of innovative approaches that will benefit both organisations and contribute to training the drug discoverers of tomorrow.”

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For further information or to arrange interviews contact Lisa Bedwell on 01625 708395 or
07741 857132 or email

Notes to editors

About the Medicines Discovery Catapult

Medicines Discovery Catapult is a national facility connecting the UK community to accelerate innovative drug discovery.

We provide unique scientific capabilities and act as a gateway to UK resources and expertise, supporting UK SMEs to drive the development and industrialisation of new approaches for the discovery of new medicines.

By validating new ways of discovering medicines and driving key talent and expertise across the sector, we will support the UK life sciences industry, SMEs and innovators to deliver growth for the UK economy and maintain the UK’s heritage position as a global leader in medicines R&D.

Ultimately, new industrialised technologies are vital for delivering new medicines to patients, faster.       


About LifeArc

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be taken through to full development and made available to patients. We’ve been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in four licensed medicines and a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance.

Our success allows us to explore new approaches to stimulate and fund translation. We have our own drug discovery and diagnostics facilities, supported by experts in technology transfer and intellectual property who also provide services to external clients.  Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and scientists.

We are motivated by patient need and scientific opportunity. Two funds help us to progress science for the benefit of patients – our Philanthropic Fund providing grants to support medical research projects focused on the translation of rare diseases research and our Seed Fund aimed at start-up companies focused on developing new therapeutics and biological modalities.