Biomarker Strategy Development

LifeArc strategic R&D partnership

LifeArc is an independent medical research charity, turning promising science into benefits for patients.

In May 2019, MDC and LifeArc formed a long-term, strategic partnership to accelerate the translation of promising research through the identification and development of novel biomarkers, enabling bioanalytics to help guide drug discover R&D.

LifeArc has a growing portfolio of innovative therapeutic candidates across priority disease areas where there is high patient need. Medicines Discovery Catapult has established platforms and expertise in the discovery and validation of new biomarker approaches.

The partnership focusses on the identification and development of novel biomarkers that detect the efficacy and safety of novel drug molecules which can be used in human trials.


National charity requires access to key industrial capability

Biomarkers play a fundamental role in improving our understanding of drugs, disease and drug-target interactions in patients. They are key to translating drugs from a pre-clinical to a clinical setting, where they help define dosage, patient selection and treatment decisions.

While extensively used as tools to guide drug R&D in oncology, the potential to improve understanding of the clinical efficacy, safety and patient segmentation across other areas remain to be fully tapped.


Use of a portfolio of biomarker validation platforms

The partnership will use the expertise of both organisations to progress candidate molecules towards clinical evaluation with an optimised biomarker strategy. LifeArc will fund a select number of full-time employees, who will be embedded within Medicines Discovery Catapult to provide strategic biomarker discovery and development.

The new posts funded initially for three years, will combine LifeArc’s project expertise with Medicines Discovery Catapult’s translational drug development know-how and suite of state-of-the-art biomarker technologies. This includes PET imaging, near infra-red imaging, Nanostring, molecular pathology, imaging informatics, MALDI, and digital spatial profiling.

LifeArc will fund a two-year industrial post-doctoral research position based in Medicines Discovery Catapult’s national laboratory at Alderley Park in Cheshire.


Co-development of strategic biomarker programme

The new positions will establish innovative mass spectrometry proteomics workflows relevant to drug discovery and improve the techniques and know-how available to both Medicines Discovery Catapult and LifeArc.

Ultimately, this collaboration will establish new proteomics approaches that can be applied to benefit the wider drug discovery community.


This landmark collaboration brings together the expertise of two world-class, UK-based leaders in collaborative approaches to drug discovery, for the first time.

LifeArc is renowned for its use of science, advice and funding to advance innovation into patient benefits, and this partnership is a further endorsement of Medicine Discovery Catapult’s position as a leader in the creation of biomarker strategies. The application of technology innovation in drug discovery will help to advance potential therapeutics closer to patients.

“This is an exciting opportunity to join forces with Medicines Discovery Catapult to support and accelerate the translation of promising research into new health interventions. Additionally, the post-doctoral fellowship position will facilitate the development of innovative approaches that will benefit both organisations and contribute to training the drug discoverers of tomorrow.”

Catherine Kettleborough, Associate Director, LifeArc’s Centre for Therapeutics Discovery