PostEra, a biotechnology company specialising in machine learning for drug discovery, today announced that it has received a grant of £100,000 from the independent medical charity LifeArc to support an international effort to rapidly develop a potential antiviral candidate for COVID-19.  The grant will be entirely dedicated to the COVID Moonshot initiative, which PostEra jointly leads alongside leading scientists from Diamond Light Source, Weizmann Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and MedChemica.

The aim of the COVID Moonshot initiative is to develop a globally accessible oral antiviral. In one year, Moonshot has gone from a fragment screen to several lead series. The initiative is currently optimising such leads and hopes to announce a preclinical candidate ready for clinical trial-enabling studies within 3 months.

Furthermore, the project aims to show the value of open science drug discovery, by producing an inexpensive and effective therapeutic given the lack of R&D costs to recoup. The project also shares all data in the open to put the broader scientific community on the front foot should another coronavirus pandemic emerge.

PostEra and the COVID Moonshot consortium are immensely grateful for LifeArc’s support. “LifeArc’s support will enable us to reach an important milestone, delivering a molecule ready for preclinical studies,” said Alpha Lee, Chief Scientific Officer of PostEra. “Our open science model has enabled us to make rapid progress by establishing a wide net of collaborators. We look forward to working with visionary medical charities like LifeArc as our lead compound moves towards the clinic.”

Dr Andy Merritt, Head of Chemistry at LifeArc said: “LifeArc plays a vital role in advancing medical research through funding, advice and scientific expertise to translate early discoveries into Since the beginning of LifeArc has contributed £27m to research projects to address the healthcare challenges of COVID-19 and we have been considering more ways in which we could apply our knowledge and expertise in this area. Our collaboration with the Moonshot consortium enables us to do this, as we seek to advance a potential antiviral candidate to first in patient trials and support the development of a framework for a response to future pandemics.”

Notes to editors

About PostEra

PostEra offers medicinal chemistry as a service powered by machine learning. Its technology is built upon pioneering academic research done at the University of Cambridge. The technology addresses some of the key challenges in drug discovery R&D by integrating molecular design with chemical synthesis. PostEra partners with drug hunters to help expedite their preclinical programs while also offering some of its synthesis technology via its Manifold web platform. PostEra also launched and now helps lead the world’s largest open-science drug discovery effort; COVID Moonshot. Find out more about PostEra at or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter. 

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.  

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. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.