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LifeArc Providing £5M for COVID-19 Study on Genomics of Severe Disease

NEW YORK – Medical research charity LifeArc said on Monday that it is providing £5 million ($6.9 million) in funding to the GenOMICC consortium to support the GenOMICC COVID-19 study.

The consortium, which launched the study in May 2020 in partnership with Genomics England, is using genomics to investigate the genetic factors underlying disease severity and to increase understanding about the disease. The researchers are hoping that they'll be able to compare the genomes of people who had severe illness with those who had more manageable symptoms.

The consortium is anticipating that the study data will provide insights into the fight against COVID-19, as well as other coronavirus infections in the future. They're also hoping that the study could also provide insights on therapeutic and preventative strategies for future pandemics.

The partnership with Genomics England was formed to enable large-scale and rapid whole-genome sequencing and analysis for NHS COVID-19 patients by using Genomics England's sequencing and analysis resources. LifeArc's funding will add to £4.6 million of additional funding that has already been announced by the UK Department of Health and Social Care and will support the costs of patient enrollment, sample acquisition, sample processing, and bioinformatics analysis, the charity said.

"This initiative moves us forward to better understand the heterogeneity of responses to COVID amongst people, considering that genetic variation may play a key differentiating and therefore predictable role," LifeArc CEO Melanie Lee said in a statement. "It is hoped that this program will provide rapid insights that can inform accurate diagnostics and potential targets for drug development. 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."