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Translational efforts transformed with £30 million LifeArc partnership

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Today, we are thrilled to announce that the medical research charity LifeArc is committing £30 million over five years to the UK DRI, in a huge boost to our translational work.

The new partnership brings together the strengths of UK DRI’s research into discovery science with LifeArc’s translational expertise to take exciting lab discoveries forward and bridge the gap between the lab and the clinic.

Through fundamental discovery science, UK DRI researchers are revealing the mechanisms underpinning neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia. The funding will be used to translate these scientific discoveries into new diagnostic tests, treatments and devices. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, motor neurone disease, fronto-temporal dementia and Parkinson’s disease. While research has revealed much more about these conditions, there are still no effective ways to prevent them or stop them progressing.

We are very proud to partner with LifeArc to give an extremely important boost to our translational work, and ultimately to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. Prof Bart De Strooper, UK DRI Director

Prof Bart De Strooper, UK DRI Director said: “We are very proud to partner with LifeArc to give an extremely important boost to our translational work, and ultimately to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. Together we can think bigger, work more creatively and advance areas of great need with huge promise such as antibody-based therapeutics. We are excited to see the progress this brings over the coming years in our race to cures.”

Dr Adrian Ivinson, COO and Director of the UK DRI said: “This LifeArc partnership is a vote of confidence not only in the UK DRI’s research but also in the field more broadly. Neurodegenerative disorders have proven difficult to treat and prevent. But our understanding of the root causes of these conditions is improving year by year such that we are ready to explore new therapeutic approaches. LifeArc is a terrific partner for the UK DRI to be working with.”

Since our establishment in 2017, the UK DRI has made great progress in generating the knowledge required to treat neurodegeneration. Through fundamental discovery science, UK DRI researchers are revealing the mechanisms underpinning disease and identifying new drug targets for therapies.

Dr Dave Powell, LifeArc’s Chief Scientific Officer says: “Great strides have been made in dementia research in recent years and we now have huge potential to help patients if we use our expertise to translate it into ways to help them. We hope that this partnership will speed up the development of life changing treatments and inspire us all to be bold and do more to help people affected by this condition.”

As experts in translation, LifeArc brings funding, technology transfer and translational science expertise, bridging the challenging gap between these lab discoveries and clinical trials. Moving research further down the discovery pipeline can make projects less risky and more attractive to future partners, such as pharmaceutical companies, who can take them into clinical trials needed to develop new treatments.

LifeArc has already been working with the UK DRI, but this new partnership is a significant step change in funding and translational expertise. UK DRI scientists will have access to LifeArc’s therapeutic and diagnostic platforms, and both organisations will collaborate to make decisions on projects which should be funded. LifeArc will continue to provide technology transfer expertise.

Dave continued: “We’re delighted to be partnering with UK DRI in this way. Our visions are strongly aligned, and by working together in this partnership, we believe we can deliver solutions to people affected by dementia, much faster. The expertise we both bring means we truly complement each other on the path from discovery science to patients. We hope working together will mean we are more likely to encourage others to take promising treatments on further down the discovery pipeline.”

To ensure promising findings are rapidly acted upon and given the best chance of reaching the clinic, the UK DRI has established vital agreements that allow us to act as a single point of access to multiple university and industrial partners. Partnerships are a key part of our translation vision, and we work with a range of industry partners including Eisai, Lilly and Astex, investors, and NHS trusts.

For UK DRI researchers, further information and funding calls for the new LifeArc partnership will come directly to you soon.

If you would like to keep updated on UK DRI activities in translation and innovation, sign up to our quarterly translation newsletter.



Article published: 16 June 2022

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