LifeArc has established a successful business model based on forging partnerships. We collaborate with both research groups and pharma and biotech companies to give promising research every chance to succeed. Our independence means we are free to work with the partner most suited to help us deliver new treatments to improve people’s lives.
LifeArc-Crick Translation Fund
In November 2019, LifeArc joined with the Francis Crick Institute to create the LifeArc-Crick Translation Fund. The Fund will make £5m available over five years to support Crick scientists in progressing promising innovation to the point where the project can attract follow-on, larger scale investment and development. LifeArc will collaborate with Crick Group Leaders and the Crick translation team to identify projects in areas aligned to LifeArc’s strategy and with Crick’s discovery science strengths.
Veronique Birault, the Director of Translation at the Crick said: “The Crick has placed emphasis on promoting an openness to translation within the institute, providing easy access to expertise and mechanisms to convert discoveries to applications. The LifeArc-Crick Translation Fund will enable our mission of accelerating translation.”
Andrew Farquharson, who worked closely with the Crick to jointly create a vision for the Fund, said: “Our firm commitment to support translation of the most innovative UK science finds a perfect partner in the Crick Institute. Our aim is to establish a strong, collaborative relationship between LifeArc and the Crick, that will maximise the potential for Crick innovation to be turned into future patient impact. This funding, coupled with the translational experience that we bring will deliver new and more diverse opportunities for follow-on development by LifeArc and its partners.”
Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
In 2014 MRC Technology, re-branded LifeArc in 2017, and the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (SIBCB) initiated a collaboration aimed at fast tracking innovative druggable targets to create potent and selective novel therapeutics. The collaboration combines SIBCB’s expertise in generating potential new drug targets with LifeArc’s experience in further developing early stage research for pharmaceutical application and commercialisation.
The arrangement was renewed in 2018 and the two institutions continue to work on potential new drug targets.
Supporting technology transfer and IP management efforts, LifeArc set up its drug discovery laboratories in order to bridge the gap between innovative, early stage academic research and the development of intellectual property suitable for licensing to industry for further development and commercialisation. De-risking novel targets by providing proof of concept and pharma-quality data packages fulfils a clear need in the drug discovery process. The collaboration opens the LifeArc laboratories up to a new source of targets from SIBCB researchers.
Milner Therapeutics Institute
At the beginning of 2018 LifeArc, the UK-based medical research charity, and the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge announced a new partnership to identify and validate new drug targets in immuno-oncology and in respiratory diseases. This collaborative project aims to develop and apply cutting-edge machine learning approaches to drug discovery processes and projects, to identify novel therapeutic targets, to stratify patient populations and to predict the efficacy of new and existing drugs.
Combining the drug discovery expertise of LifeArc with the machine-learning and bioinformatics expertise of the Milner Therapeutics Institute facilitates the identification and selection of novel targets for drug discovery. Data generated are used to enhance the design of key experiments and to validate and prioritise targets. The overall goal is to develop and progress great science, enabling it to be of interest to commercial partners who would progress it to the marketplace for patient benefit.
Scientists involved in this project are co-located at LifeArc and at the Milner Therapeutics Institute and can take full advantage of both environments.
In 2017 LifeArc announced a partnership with TetraGenetics, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for autoimmune diseases and pain. The collaboration brings together the unique recombinant protein expression expertise of TetraGenetics with the antibody humanisation and development capabilities of LifeArc. Under the agreement LifeArc will humanise up to five new drug leads discovered by TetraGenetics and may support pre-IND (Investigational New Drug) studies for selected programs. TetraGenetics will manage the regulatory applications and the subsequent clinical trials for successful candidates.
The first collaborative program focuses on anti-Kv1.3 antibodies, targeting Type 1 Diabetes. TetraGenetics has discovered several functional antibodies to this well-validated target and is using funds provided by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to characterise them. The lead humanised antibody, expected to be finalised by LifeArc soon, will be developed as a therapeutic intended to offer a cure or the ability to halt disease progression. The parties plan to file an IND with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020.