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LifeArc launch programme to transform care for people with chronic lung conditions


LifeArc is launching a landmark £100m programme to urgently develop new healthcare solutions for the more than 300,000 people living with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis in the UK today.

The LifeArc Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge will accelerate scientific innovation and develop new diagnostics, therapies and technologies to transform how chronic lung infections are detected, treated and managed.

The programme is part of LifeArc’s strategy to invest £1.3bn by 2030 to solve some of the most complex and challenging healthcare problems, including by launching Translational Challenges in underfunded and under supported disease areas.

An estimated 300,000 people across the UK have bronchiectasis[i] – a devastating chronic lung condition which causes excess mucus to build up in the lungs causing frequent coughing and breathing difficulties. It leaves people vulnerable to infection, flare-ups and permanent lung damage, and there is currently no licensed treatment for the condition.

There are over 10,000 people living with cystic fibrosis in the UK alone.[ii] While there have been advances in treatment in recent years, infections continue to cause massive disruption to people’s lives and can be difficult to treat. People living with cystic fibrosis spend several weeks in hospital each year on average receiving emergency treatment and also need to travel to hospital frequently for regular check-ups.[iii]

Dr Catherine Kettleborough, who leads the LifeArc Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge, said: “LifeArc is investing up to £100m by 2030 to catalyse the development of new diagnostics, treatments and technologies for people living with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis. These are challenging conditions which cause enormous disruption to people’s lives, significantly reduce quality of life and ultimately shorten lives.

“We’re partnering with academics, charities, industry and others to fast-track scientific discoveries into new clinical solutions for patients. Our goal is to enable people with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis to live longer with improved quality of life by breaking the vicious cycle of infection, inflammation, and permanent lung damage.”

“Life science research is full of exceptional ideas with huge potential. The challenge is many of these never make it out of the lab. Turning scientific discoveries into new treatments is complicated, expensive, and difficult.

“I am delighted that by launching the Chronic Respiratory Infection Translational Challenge, we will bridge this gap. Working as a catalyst for innovation, LifeArc will bring science and industry together to deliver new clinical solutions for people living with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis faster.”

LifeArc Chief Executive Officer Dr Melanie Lee CBE


[i] British Lung Foundation ‘Bronchiectasis statistics’

[ii] Cystic Fibrosis Trust, UK Cystic Fibrosis Registry Annual Data Report 2020

[iii] Cystic fibrosis accounts for 9,500 hospital admissions and over 100,000 hospital bed days a year. Read more

LifeArc has purpose-built facilities at NINE Edinburgh BioQuarter, at the Centre for Diagnostics Development. A team of around 20 people work to improve the commercial readiness of early stage diagnostics from academic research, specialising in molecular diagnostics and has some of the most modern and comprehensive technologies available.