LifeArc has made available an initial £10M for the identification of therapeutics that can be rapidly deployed to treat COVID-19. The aim is to run trials in patients during the current epidemic. It is anticipated that applications will be for funding to repurpose one or more drugs that are generic, already licensed, or are in late stage development for another indication.
COVID-19 now represents a global emergency. Development and testing of a vaccine will take at least a year and it may be two years before there is good protection across the most vulnerable groups. There is a clear need for new treatments that will reduce the mortality rate while we wait for a vaccine.
Development of novel molecules is not thought to be realistic in the timeframe needed to impact upon this pandemic, so the focus for this call is on repurposing already available drugs (including biologics) or those in late stages of development.
LifeArc is calling for applications from academics, NHS employees or companies that have therapeutics that could be repurposed or repositioned for use in COVID-19 patients. The primary purpose is to accelerate availability of treatments for patients and it is therefore expected that applicants will already have material available for testing and a plan for rapid scale up of clinical material. Priority will be given to projects that have a clear path and availability for patients in a 6-12 month timeframe.
Plans for the structure of the clinical trials should be in advanced stages of development and should follow the specialist guidance from the regulators on COVID-19 trials.
The expectation is that the data obtained will be shared openly and, where knowledge obtained could benefit the development of other COVID-19 therapeutics, this should be done as quickly as is reasonably possible.