LifeArc provides £5m funding for COVID-19 genomics study

Pharmaceutical News

LifeArc, a medical research charity, has announced it will provide £5m in funding to support the GenOMICC COVID-19 study, which is aiming to understand the role of genetic risk factors in patient responses to COVID-19.

The study, led by the GenOMICC consortium in partnership with Genomics England, is utilising genomics to evaluate why some people are affected more severely by COVID-19.

The partnership between the consortium and Genomics England was formed to allow for the large-scale and rapid whole genome sequencing and analysis of NHS COVID-19 patients.

“At Genomics England, we are proud to be working with the NHS, the University of Edinburgh and other partners in the fight against COVID-19, to understand why people respond so differently to this terrible infection,” said Chris Wigley, chief executive officer at Genomics England.

“Genomics is already giving us critical insights, as the partnership’s recent Nature paper and many others have shown. LifeArc’s support will allow us to accelerate and scale these insights and continue to feed them into clinical trials, clinical practice and fundamental research,” he added.

In addition to the LifeArc funding, the GenOMICC COVID-19 study has already received £4.6m in additional funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The funding will support the costs of patient enrolment, sample acquisition, sample processing and bioinformatics analysis of patients.

As part of the study, scientists will aim to compare the genomes of people who had severe illness caused by COVID-19 with those who had a more moderate experience of the disease.

This will potentially enable them to identify genetic factors associated with the body’s response to COVID-19.

“It is hoped that this programme will provide rapid insights that can inform accurate diagnostics, and potential targets for drug development,” said Melanie Lee, chief executive officer of LifeArc.

“We hope this work will also help inform the 15 clinical studies that we have funded into investigating existing drugs for efficacy in COVID patients, as part of the £27 million LifeArc has now allocated to research projects to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

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