Pivotal partnership seeks to transform cystic fibrosis research 

LifeArc, a national medical research charity, is joining the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Syndicate in a strategic partnership alongside Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC).

The CF AMR Syndicate aims to address unmet patient needs by linking people with CF with leading experts across industry, academia and the NHS.

Together, this cross-sector consortium is identifying and tackling drug discovery hurdles to accelerate the development of CF antimicrobials and infection diagnostics and the speed at which they can reach the people who need them.

For the estimated 10,800 people in the UK living with CF, the lungs are one of the most commonly affected organs, where sufferers experience a build-up of thick sticky mucous, which is difficult to clear. The development of frequent and persistent infections that are difficult to treat leads to a progressive decline in lung function. Treatment failure due to the development of resistance is frequently seen in people with CF, and the consequences of this can be devastating.

With microbes becoming increasingly resistant to the latest medicines and no new antibiotics being brought to market in over 25 years, AMR is a critically important and worldwide health concern. It remains one of the biggest challenges faced by the CF community and is an area that faces significant drug discovery and development challenges.

This critical unmet patient need is something that the drug discovery and diagnostics expertise of both Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) and LifeArc – combined with expert insight from Cystic Fibrosis Trust – will seek to address, delivering a collaborative approach which could prove pivotal in unlocking future treatments and breakthroughs.

Dr Beverley Isherwood, Partnership Lead for Infectious Disease at MDC, commented on the CF AMR Syndicate: “It is brilliant that LifeArc is joining forces with MDC and Cystic Fibrosis Trust to help deliver on the CF AMR Syndicate’s objectives, strengthening our combined reach and impact.

“LifeArc, Cystic Fibrosis Trust and MDC have an aligned vision of lifting the limits of medicines R&D, accelerating the development of CF antimicrobials and diagnostics, and speeding up new treatments for people with CF. By bringing the CF research community together with people with the condition, we have identified barriers to the discovery of medicines and built a programme to overcome them.

“Three years on, with the combined experience of our partners and the wider CF AMR Network, we are ready to take the Syndicate to the next level. By nurturing research, academic translation and industrial commercialisation in this area, we are collaboratively fuelling the acceleration of much-needed new treatments and diagnostics to tackle AMR in CF.”   

LifeArc’s Dr Catherine Kettleborough said: “We’re delighted to join the CF AMR Syndicate as a managing partner. LifeArc helps accelerate scientific discoveries into new clinical solutions for patients. Working with CF Trust and MDC, we’ll provide in-house science capabilities, translation expertise and funding to fast-track the development of antimicrobials and diagnostics to bring new and effective treatments to people living with CF faster.”

Dr Paula Sommer, Head of Research at Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “While antimicrobial resistance is a concern for us all, people living with CF are particularly vulnerable to it. This is because antimicrobial drugs are an important part of day-to-day treatment for people with CF, as well as the specific challenges of treating CF-related lung infections.

“Our partnership with MDC has enabled the Syndicate to drive forward initiatives aimed at helping innovators navigate the complex drug development pathways in CF antimicrobial development. We are thrilled to have been joined by LifeArc, and we can now focus our next phase on further expanding the Syndicate for the benefit of people with CF.”

Abigail Halstead, a patient representative on the CF AMR Syndicate’s Steering Committee, said: “As someone with CF that is living with a chronic infection, being an active member of the CF AMR Syndicate’s Steering Committee has enabled me to share my experiences and use them to help shape the Syndicate’s strategy. It’s encouraging to know that drug and diagnostic projects developed by the Syndicate have been informed by people with CF, ensuring our needs and priorities are at their heart. I’m excited to see the progress we make with LifeArc coming on board, with their unique capabilities and mission to transform promising ideas into life-changing medical breakthroughs.”

Read more about the CF AMR Syndicate Network and how to join

Notes to editors

About the CF AMR Syndicate

Medicines Discovery Catapult has joined forces with Cystic Fibrosis Trust and LifeArc to form the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Syndicate in Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The CF Syndicate in AMR brings industry leaders and people with CF together with academics with expertise in CF and pulmonary infection.

The CF AMR Syndicate has been set up to accelerate the translation of CF antimicrobials to the clinic to bring new and effective treatment options to people with CF.

Our research agenda has been informed by extensive efforts to understand the research landscape and the needs of the CF infection research community. We have developed the agenda through a cross-sector collaborative approach, which has involved close working with people with CF.


About Medicines Discovery Catapult

MDC is reshaping drug discovery for patient benefit, transforming great UK science into better treatments through partnership. It works to tackle industry-led challenges, overcoming the barriers that limit today’s drug discovery with effective interventions. It is industrialising new technologies, connecting the Life Sciences ecosystem, supporting drug discovery innovators and engaging in national Life Science policy initiatives.


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 fully developed 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.

LifeArc has several different funding mechanisms to invest in promising innovations to ultimately benefit patients. Our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on translating rare diseases research. Our Early Ventures investment team invests in seed and Series A stage companies and is able to scale our investments further into later funding rounds. The ventures strategy focuses on investing in novel translational science and technology with a dual goal of generating financial returns to the charity and positive impact for patients.