As 2023 comes to a close, we reflect on another great year at LifeArc filled with, exciting partnerships and initiatives, and significant scientific advances.
We’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of our journey this year – we couldn’t have done it without you!
Read some of our 2023 highlights from our 5 health areas, our science and ventures teams and join us in celebrating all that we have achieved.
Our global health strategy was officially launched in 2023, dedicated to advancing the development of innovations to tackle infectious diseases around the world. It’s been a busy year, with just some of our highlights discussed below.
We are working on 3 challenges in global health. One is focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
As part of our work in this area, we joined forces with Innovate UK and Medicines Discovery Catapult to launch PACE (Pathways to Antimicrobial Clinical Efficacy), a £30 million initiative supporting early-stage innovation against AMR. We also funded a field-test of an easy-to-use diagnostic strip for urinary tract infections in India to help reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
Our other two areas of focus in global health are neglected tropical diseases and emerging viral threats. This year, we have established a £2.7 million research fund with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and joined the Infection Innovation Consortium (ICON), to accelerate the development of innovations targeting these health problems,
We have focused on how LifeArc can help support reducing the impact of infectious diseases in Africa, including investing £7.5 million with the to help African scientists develop new diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.
In 2023, we launched our which see us grow our investment to more than £100 million to help get new innovations to people living with rare diseases, faster.
So far, we have announced a £40m call for the creation of 4 Translational Rare Disease Centres across the UK, launched a £2.5m funding call to repurpose medicines for use in the skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, alongside continuing funding rare disease research through our Philanthropic Fund and joint calls with charities like Action Medical Research and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.
In our neurodegeneration health area, we are working towards creating a world with preventable and treatable neurodegenerative conditions. One of our standout achievements in 2023 includes the initiation of NEURII, new UK-based research collaboration to transform dementia care through digital solutions.
In other news this year, a total of £14.5m has been allocated through our partnership with UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI) to support 7 major projects seeking to develop new tests, treatments and medical devices for neurodegenerative conditions.
Plus, we have jointly awarded £1 million to progress development of 2 pioneering new gene and cell therapy projects for motor neuron disease (MND).
Finally, we have recently launched a £5 million international MND drug repurposing call to help advance and validate promising research which we hope will lead to the discovery of a new treatment for MND.
Chronic respiratory infection (CRI)
The aim of our CRI efforts is to improve the quality of life for those living with cystic fibrosis (CF) and bronchiectasis and help them live longer.
In 2023, we launched a £15m funding call to fast-track treatment of lung infections and fund an exciting new network of virtual CF innovation hubs. We also provided £3m towards the CF AMR Syndicate’s Collaborative Discovery Programme to support the development of new antimicrobial therapies to treat chronic respiratory infections.
In partnership with Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR), we also initiated the ACE-CF trial, testing a home monitoring system to enhance the lives of those with chronic lung conditions. The system utilises AI to predict severe infections up to 10 days earlier which could potentially revolutionise CF care.
Towards the end of the year, the CRI team hosted a joint workshop with Asthma + Lung UK. This important event brought together researchers, clinicians and patients to discuss the challenges around diagnoses for people with chronic lung conditions, better understand what patients need the most, and help shape our ongoing strategy.
Our scientific services help accelerate the development of new treatments and diagnostics. We’re thrilled to share one of the drugs we helped develop, Leqembi (lecanemab), was recognised by TIME magazine as one of the best inventions of 2023.
Leqembi is an antibody treatment approved by the FDA for Alzheimer’s disease in the US. Our antibody team played an instrumental role in the drug’s development and thanks to their dedication and expertise, this drug could change the lives of patients worldwide.
Our diagnostics team also teamed up with The University of St Andrews Infection Group to progress their diagnostic test (TB-MBLA) for tuberculosis (TB) to a stage where patients can benefit. The diagnostic will be a research-only tool initially to collect clinical evidence of its suitability against conventional testing methodologies.
We invest in early-stage life science companies with promising treatments, devices, diagnostics or digital solutions through LifeArc Ventures. This year was another exciting year for the
Ventures team, with 6 new investments and five follow on investments in existing portfolio companies. New investments include:
- Maxion Therapeutics, who are improving treatment of poorly-treated conditions such as autoimmune diseases and chronic pain
- Ozlo Sleep, who are developing digital sleep solutions for better sleep
- Affect Therapeutics, who have developed a digital treatment platform to break the cycle of addiction in substance use disorders.
Policy and public affairs (PPA)
In 2023, PPA came on leaps and bounds. We kicked off the year with 2 Ministerial speeches at our Annual Reception, three submissions to Government consultations, and a public call for UK association to Horizon Europe.
Spring and summer flew by as we joined the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), engaged extensively with the UK Government’s Spinouts Review, hosted a panel with the then science minister, George Freeman MP, set up a cross-sector advocacy coalition for health translation, launched a report on skills in cell and gene therapy, and supported a debate in Parliament.
Now we celebrate the end of the year with party conferences, the AMRC Festival of Partnerships, and three roundtables for our sponsored report on business investment in UK R&D.
These are just a handful of the many brilliant achievements and highlights this year – there were many more we could have included.
Thank you again to everyone who has worked with us. After such an exciting year, we’re looking forward to what 2024 will bring!