London, 27 January 2021: BenevolentAI today announced that the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has selected a novel chronic kidney disease (CKD) target to advance to its drug development portfolio, making it the first AI-generated target from the collaboration to enter the Company’s portfolio. In 2019, BenevolentAI and AstraZeneca entered a strategic collaboration aiming to discover new drugs for CKD and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The partnership combines AstraZeneca’s scientific expertise and rich datasets with BenevolentAI’s target identification platform and biomedical knowledge graph to understand these two complex diseases’ underlying mechanisms and identify new and more efficacious drug targets.
CKD is a complex, and debilitating disease which affects around 10% of the world’s population. With the prevalence increasing, limited treatment options and patients progressively losing kidney function, there is a critical unmet need for new drugs that specifically target the cause of CKD.
Professor Pernille Laerkegaard Hansen, Senior Director, Head of Biosciences Renal at AstraZeneca commented: “The collaboration with BenevolentAI has seen our scientists work side-by-side to develop a knowledge graph that will enable us to explore and find new targets for chronic kidney disease. Together we are transforming how new medicines are discovered and the identification of this first target is only the beginning of what our partnership hopes to achieve.”
“Complex diseases like CKD have defied conventional research efforts”, said Dr Anne Phelan, Chief Scientific Officer of BenevolentAI. “Working with our partners at AstraZeneca, we leveraged our AI models and platform tools to reason across vast quantities of curated biomedical information. Uniting AstraZeneca’s data-sets with our combined scientific expertise has proven to be a potent combination in the search for a novel target to treat this debilitating disease. Together, we are steadily closing the gap between AI, data and biology, and we are excited to continue collaborating on our shared goal of discovering and developing vital new treatments to patients.”
BenevolentAI creates and applies AI and machine learning to transform the way medicines are discovered and developed. Benevolent integrates its technology into every step of the drug discovery process, from hypothesis generation to early-stage clinical development. BenevolentAI is headquartered in London with a research facility in Cambridge (UK) and a further office in New York. BenevolentAI has active R&D drug programmes in disease areas such as ALS, Ulcerative Colitis and Glioblastoma and has research and commercial collaborations with AstraZeneca and Novartis.