A new COVID-19 drug screening and resistance facility, funded by medical research charity LifeArc, has been established at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR).

The project – COVID-19 Drug-Screening and Resistance Hub (CRUSH) – has been granted £2.5m to establish a hub dedicated to supporting and accelerating COVID-19 antiviral innovation drug translation.

It is funded by £2m from LifeArc plus additional funding from the Medical Research Council, with the hub set to be delivered by the University of Glasgow in Collaboration with LifeArc and the University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit.

The hub will undertake studies to investigate promising drug candidates for COVID-19 treatment alongside drug screening with the early identification of any possible drug and immune-resistant virus variants, in a bit to fast-track the investigation process.

“The establishment of CRUSH is an exciting development for the CVR and we are delighted to be partnering with LifeArc on this initiative,” said Professor Massimo Palmarini, director of the CVR.

“While CRUSH activities will initially focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, the CVR and the CRUSH facility are well positioned to rapidly respond to future viral outbreaks, delivering innovation to address public health crises caused by high consequence viruses. We look forward to working with academic and industry partners to develop CRUSH as a national facility,” he added.

“At LifeArc, we focus on translation – advancing promising science into medical interventions that improve human health. Our work has become more pressing during the current pandemic. We have now allocated more than £22 million to the search for new medicines and diagnostics to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and this project is the latest example of that commitment,” added Michael Dalrymple, executive director diagnostics and science foresight at LifeArc.