UK-based medical research charity LifeArc has created a £10 million fund to support research to accelerate the development and testing of therapeutics that can be rapidly deployed to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.
Applications are open now to academics or companies that have molecules that could be repurposed or repositioned for use in COVID-19 patients.
Melanie Lee, CEO, LifeArc, explained why they had established the fund. She said: “The development and manufacture of a vaccine is at least a year away. There is a clear, urgent need now for treatments that can reduce the mortality and morbidity rate. We have launched this research call to try to speed up the process of investigating potential treatments and so improve outcomes for patients.”
LifeArc’s assumption is that the development of novel molecules is not realistic in the timeframe. The focus for applications will therefore be from those looking to repurpose already available medicines licensed in other indications or for therapeutics in the late stages of development.
The aim is to increase the chance of getting an effective treatment available across the world during this pandemic.
LifeArc has more than 25 years’ experience progressing translational medical research.
Scientific rationale but no funding
Andrew Farquharson, Executive Director, Technology Transfer, LifeArc, said: “We are aware of a number of potential drugs where there is a scientific rationale for testing but no funding to do that. With this funding we aim to progress those therapeutics and we are looking for proposals that offer the best chance of quickly making a difference.”
This funding will form part of a national and international response from across the life sciences sector. Grants will be awarded rapidly and LifeArc is not looking for any financial return on these grants.
Research applications will be considered by an expert scientific panel using criteria which include:
- the scientific rationale
- deliverability of the project in the time scale of 6-12 months
- and clarity on how to manufacture and reach patients with the drug.
The call for applications opened on 20 March and will close on 6 April 2020. Funding decisions will be made by the week commencing 27th April.
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