LifeArc is calling for the establishment of a Center for Translational Rare Diseases

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 Centers in the UK, along with separate coordinating centres.

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

Through this initiative, coordinated research conducted at the new Center for Translational Rare Diseases will leverage the UK’s rare disease research base and help provide new therapies and diagnostics for patients with rare diseases in the UK and around the world.

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

LifeArc CEO Melanie Lee said: “Life science research is full of great ideas. Our mission is to unlock their potential and facilitate the development of the next generation of diagnostics, treatments and cures. This £40 million investment in translational research into rare diseases 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 knowledge, accelerating progress medicine, and have the greatest impact on patients. Diseases are becoming more specific defined based on discrete genetics and the mechanisms that define smaller patient groups, so support platforms for rare disease R&D should also have a broader impact on breakthroughs in medicine.”

The collaborative application, led by a UK academic institution, was invited to set up the centre, which is meant to strengthen rare disease translation skills in the UK.

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

The investment is part of LifeArc’s broader commitment to the field of rare disease translational research. Recently, the charity gave a total of £3 million ($3.7 million) to six UK universities to accelerate research to help people living with rare diseases. In addition, the LifeArc Philanthropic Fund provides 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’s portfolio company, DJS Antibodies Limited, in a $255 million deal.

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