Today, LifeArc, a UK-based medical research charity, has created a £10 million fund to support research to accelerate the development and testing of therapeutics that can be rapidly deployed to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. The charity is seeking applications from academics or companies that have therapeutics that could be repurposed or repositioned for use in COVID-19 patients.

Explaining the urgency of the issue, Melanie Lee, CEO, LifeArc said: “COVID-19 represents a global emergency. The development and manufacture of a vaccine is at least a year away. There is a clear, urgent need now for treatments that can reduce the mortality and morbidity rate.

“We have launched this research call to try to speed up the process of investigating potential treatments and so improve outcomes for patients.”

Development of novel molecules is not realistic in the timeframe, so the focus for applications will be from those looking to repurpose already available medicines licensed in other indications or for therapeutics in the late stages of development.

It is crucial that research funding is made available rapidly to increase the chance of getting an effective treatment available across the world during this pandemic.

Andrew Farquharson, Executive Director, Technology Transfer, LifeArc, said: “We are aware of a number of potential drugs where there is a scientific rationale for testing but no funding to do that.

“With this funding we aim to progress those therapeutics and we are looking for proposals that offer the best chance of quickly making a difference.”

LifeArc has more than 25 years’ experience progressing translational medical research. Research applications will be considered by an expert scientific panel using criteria which include the scientific rationale, deliverability of the project the time scale of 6-12 months and clarity on how to manufacture and reach patients with the drug. The call opens 20 March and will close on the 6 April. Funding decisions will be made by w/c 27th April.

This funding will form part of a national and international response from across the life sciences sector. Grants will be awarded rapidly and LifeArc is not looking for any financial return on these grants.

Find out more about the COVID-19 funding call



Media contacts

Becky Wright
Four Health
020 3761 4495


Notes to editors

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 have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.

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

Two funds help us to invest in external projects for the benefit of patients: our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on the translation of rare diseases research and our Seed Fund is aimed at start-up companies focused on developing new therapeutics and biological modalities.

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