LifeArc launches £40M funding call to create Translational Rare Disease Centres 

rare disease laboratory

LifeArc is inviting applications from academic institutions for its latest £40 million ($49.8 million) initiative to fund four or five new Translational Rare Disease Centres in the U.K., along with a separate co-ordinating hub.

LifeArc, which is a self-funded, non-profit medical research charity, specializes in early-stage translation – the advancement of scientific discoveries towards patient benefit, developing the next generation of diagnostics, treatments and cures. 

Through the initiative, co-ordinated research carried out at the new Translational Rare Disease Centres will capitalize on the U.K.’s rare disease research base and help deliver new therapeutics and diagnostics for patients with a rare disease in the U.K. and around the world.

“Globally, there are more than 300 million people living with rare diseases and there are no approved therapies for over 90% of these conditions. The U.K. has a strong rare disease research base and we hope this funding will give impetus to the community, increase the volume and depth of research, foster collaborative approaches and ultimately find answers and solutions for patients living with a rare disease,” said Catriona Crombie, associate director technology Ttransfer at LifeArc.

LifeArc CEO, Melanie Lee, said: “Life science research is full of exceptional ideas. Our mission is to unlock their potential and facilitate the development of the next generation of diagnostics, treatments and cures. This £40m investment in rare disease translational research is a key part of our commitment to spend £1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) by 2030, targeting areas of unmet need where we can unlock science, accelerate medical progress and have the greatest impact for patients. Diseases are becoming more specifically defined on the basis of discrete genetics and mechanisms that define smaller patient groups, so supporting platforms for rare disease R&D should also have broader impact on breakthroughs in medicine.”

Collaborative applications, led by U.K. academic institutions, are being invited to form the centers, which are intended to strengthen the U.K.’s rare disease translational capability.

This includes increasing the volume of rare disease research delivered and catalyzing translation of the rare disease research base, as well as supporting the establishment and progression of careers in rare disease translational research. It will also increase the understanding of the needs of rare disease patients with industry and policy makers, and become a central point for engagement with the patient community.

The investment is part of LifeArc’s broader commitment to the rare disease translational research field. Most recently, the charity awarded a total of £3 million ($3.7 million) to six U.K. universities to accelerate research to help people living with rare diseases. In addition, the LifeArc Philanthropic Fund awards grants to academics with promising rare disease translational research projects and since 2017, £14.6 million ($18.2 million) has been awarded to 45 research projects, addressing 33 rare disease indications.

Last year, AbbVie acquired LifeArc portfolio company DJS Antibodies Limited, in a deal worth $255 million.

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