A new exciting and innovative £15m research programme has been announced to help improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis (CF). Co-funded by not-for-profit, medical research organisation LifeArc and leading charity Cystic Fibrosis Trust, this new programme will create a Translational Innovation Hub Network for Lung Health and Infection in Cystic Fibrosis. The network is designed to accelerate innovation and discovery of new diagnostic tests, drug treatments, medical devices and other digital solutions.
Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong, life limiting condition with a median age of death of just 38 years old. Although progress is being made through improving treatment, life with the condition remains tough for many. Repeated lung infections, and the damage they cause can have a devastating impact.
As well as fast tracking discoveries into new therapies, a key focus of the Innovation Hub Network will be to transform the way infections are detected, treated and managed. The Network will also provide a training ground in respiratory infection and lung health for the next generation of scientists and clinicians.
The Innovation Hub Network will build on the success of Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s existing Innovation Hub at the University of Cambridge*, creating additional scale and capacity by providing a national infrastructure which will consist of up to three geographically distinct, but interconnected and collaborative, Innovation Hubs. Each Hub will focus on developing advancements to help people with cystic fibrosis as well as support better understanding and management of chronic lung infections.
“This new research funding partnership marks an exciting and innovative investment in understanding and fast-tracking treatment of infection for people with CF, informed by the input of people living with the condition, who play a vital role in the direction and governance of the Hub Network.” Dr Lucy Allen, Director of Research and Healthcare data at Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said.
“By working with LifeArc and combining our expertise, we are able to significantly expand our current Hub approach, building capability and capacity and across the (UK) CF research landscape. The commitment from LifeArc will enable the Trust to leverage our co-funding to deliver the best possible outcome from this research to maximise the impact for people with cystic fibrosis.”
Cystic fibrosis is an incurable life-limiting, genetic condition that affects around 10,800 people in the UK**. Some of the challenges faced by people living with cystic fibrosis are also encountered by others with chronic respiratory conditions and therefore this programme is likely to have a wider impact and benefit to many more people here in the UK and worldwide.
Candice King, Involvement Manager at Cystic Fibrosis Trust and who has cystic fibrosis said: “Having chronic infections means that over the years, I’ve exhausted a number of antibiotics. Recent research successes in the development of modulator drugs like Kaftrio mean that rather than having to get IV antibiotics 4-5 times a year, this is down to once a year. But infections still cause lung damage, and there are also so many people with CF who are unable to benefit from modulators. It’s important that Innovation Hubs like these continue to make new advances and ensure everyone with CF can live a life unlimited.”
LifeArc’s investment in the programme is part of its Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge – which will see the organisation invest up to £100m by 2030 in collaborative projects specifically designed to deliver new tests, treatments and technology that will stop infections causing exacerbations and long-term lung damage for people living with cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis.
“Our investment is part of an ambitious long-term research programme and one of a number of scientific projects that are underway focussing on accelerating innovation for people with chronic respiratory infections” explained Dr Catherine Kettleborough, Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge lead at LifeArc.
“What distinguishes our Challenges from the missions or challenges of others are that they’re focused on that translational space. We look to identify areas where there’s promising life science innovation that’s ripe for translation and with the help of our partners mobilise all our resources to accelerate that translation. This new research programme in partnership with Cystic Fibrosis Trust, will provide an ecosystem that promotes and develops knowledge and innovation as well as being a catalyst for progress in an area where there is significant unmet patient need.”
Dr Kettleborough continues: “Ultimately, our goal is to enable people living with cystic fibrosis and other chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchiectasis to live longer, spend less time in hospital and have a much-improved quality of life.”
Full details about the funding announcement can be found Full details about the funding announcement can be found here. Applications are welcomed from UK based organisations. The closing date for expressions of interest is 31st July 2023.
* The Innovation Hub at Cambridge has successfully harnessed multi-disciplinary, world-class expertise to accelerate advances in our understanding of the transmission and evolution of CF infection-causing bacteria, and used novel strategies in target identification and design of chemical hits.a
**1 in every 2,500 babies born in the UK is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Currently, 100,000 people in the world are living with cystic fibrosis.