AstraZeneca and BenevolentAI expand drug discovery collaboration

Published: 14-Jan-2022

The expansion builds on a partnership initiated in 2019 and adds systemic lupus erythematosus and heart failure to ongoing work

BenevolentAI, a clinical-stage AI drug discovery company, has expanded its collaboration with AstraZeneca, doubling the number of disease areas being explored through the partnership.

The expansion builds on a partnership initiated in 2019 and adds systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and heart failure (HF) to ongoing work to identify multiple novel targets in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The project has already achieved two milestones, with the first novel targets added to AstraZeneca's portfolio for both CKD and IPF.

SLE is a complex autoimmune condition that can affect multiple organ systems, leading to inadequate disease control, long-term organ damage and poor health-related quality of life. It can cause symptoms including pain, rashes, fatigue, swelling in joints and fevers. HF is a chronic disease that affects approximately 64 million people worldwide. Improved treatment options have increased patients' life expectancy, however, mortality rates are still rising.

BenevolentAI’s says its platform can be applied to any disease, and is capable of generating novel targets at scale. Scientists and technologists from both companies will use the platform and biomedical Knowledge Graph — which combines AstraZeneca proprietary data with public and licensed data from scientific literature, patents, genetics, chemistry, clinical trials and more — with the goal to improve their understanding of underlying disease mechanisms and identify novel targets.

Anne Phelan, CSO at BenevolentAI, commented: "Our collaboration with AstraZeneca represents the future of drug discovery. It brings together traditional biology with innovative AI-driven technologies to integrate and analyse vast amounts of scientific data from diverse sources. In doing so, we can uncover new ways to understand complex disease biology and identify novel and biologically plausible drug targets. Our progress so far has created the best possible foundation to further catalyse productivity at this critical stage in drug R&D, and ensure new therapies reach patients as efficiently as possible."

Mene Pangalos, Executive VP, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, commented: "Systemic lupus erythematosus and heart failure are debilitating diseases with high unmet patient needs. Our work to date with BenevolentAI has been truly collaborative and we look forward to continuing to work side-by-side with them to better understand the underlying mechanisms of these complex diseases and more quickly identify new potential drug targets."

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