London and Oxford, UK, 15 May 2023 – Self funded, not-for-profit medical research organisation LifeArc and techbio company PrecisionLife announce a strategic R&D collaboration to accelerate the discovery and development of targeted treatments for motor neuron disease (MND) – also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Lou Gehrig’s disease. The collaboration will accelerate pioneering findings by PrecisionLife working with the Motor Neurone Disease Association and leading clinicians at King’s College London and the University of Sheffield to analyse genotyped patient data and find novel genetic insights into the disease.
PrecisionLife’s studies resulted in the first mechanistic stratification of sporadic MND patients into clinically relevant subgroups and the identification of multiple novel druggable targets with supporting genetic evidence. Several of these have shown the potential to improve motor neuron survival in initial laboratory assays. PrecisionLife has also identified stratification biomarkers that can be used to recruit patients to clinical trials based on their mechanism of disease. This precision medicine approach promises to accelerate and derisk clinical development and, once medicines are approved, enable clinicians to prescribe the medication mostly likely to be effective for a specific patient.
The LifeArc MND Translational Challenge is part of a multi-million-pound programme to accelerate scientific innovation for people living with motor neuron disease. Its strategy will concentrate on fast tracking scientific discoveries into new clinical solutions that will transform the way MND is detected, treated and managed. By investing in collaborative projects LifeArc will deliver new tests, therapies and other medical technologies with the ultimate goal of making MND treatable by 2030.
LifeArc and PrecisionLife will work together to select and validate multiple novel targets and their accompanying patient stratification biomarkers. LifeArc researchers will lead and coordinate target validation and drug discovery projects. PrecisionLife will support the research undertaken at LifeArc with further detailed analyses to help select the most promising drug targets, find new targets as new datasets become available, identify opportunities that might exist for repurposing existing medicines, and advance the early-stage programmes towards development.
The partners will commercialise potential new treatments for patient benefit and revenue raised from commercialisation will continue to support LifeArc’s work to discover medical breakthroughs and improve human health.
Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development, Motor Neurone Disease Association commented on the partnership: “It is really exciting to see the formation of such a potentially transformational partnership to support development of multiple new and bespoke therapeutic options for this devastating disease, where patients have such urgent unmet medical needs. Having worked with PrecisionLife and LifeArc I am convinced that in partnership these two organisations can make a significant step forward in finding new treatments.”
“MND has been a very important disease for PrecisionLife from our inception as our co-founder’s brother died from the disease as we set the company up” added Dr Steve Gardner, CEO, PrecisionLife. “Coupling a precision neuroscience approach to novel target discovery and validation with world-class translational development capabilities in MND is really exciting and holds real promise for accelerating the advances we all seek for partners and patients.”
“This is an exciting and important new partnership for us” said Dr Paul Wright, MND Translational Challenge Lead at LifeArc. “PrecisionLife’s expertise, resources and unique approach will be invaluable in helping us achieve our ambition of accelerating the development of new therapies for MND faster, and in doing so improve the treatments available for people living with MND and ultimately their survival prospects.”