London, 13 January 2021, BenevolentAI, a leading clinical-stage AI drug discovery company, has expanded its AI-driven drug discovery collaboration with AstraZeneca, doubling the number of disease areas being explored through the partnership. The three-year expansion includes an upfront payment, research funding, development milestone payments and tiered royalties on future revenues.
The expansion builds on the collaboration 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 collaboration has already achieved two major 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, and people often experience inadequate disease control, long-term organ damage and poor health-related quality of life. It can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, rashes, fatigue, swelling in joints and fevers. At least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus. 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. Around one in three people aged 55 will develop HF during their remaining lifespan, with approximately half of these patients expected to die within five years of diagnosis.
The Benevolent Platform™ is disease agnostic, meaning it can be applied to any disease, and is capable of generating novel targets at scale. Scientists and technologists from both companies will use the Benevolent Platform™ and biomedical Knowledge Graph — which uniquely includes AstraZeneca proprietary data with public and licensed data from scientific literature, patents, genetics, chemistry, clinical trials and more — to better understand underlying disease mechanisms and identify novel targets.
Anne Phelan, Chief Science Officer 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 Vice President, 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.”
BenevolentAI is a leading, clinical-stage AI drug discovery company. Through the combined capabilities of its AI platform, scientific expertise and wet-lab facilities, BenevolentAI is well-positioned to deliver novel drug candidates with a higher probability of clinical success than those developed using traditional methods. BenevolentAI has a consistently proven track record of scientifically validated discoveries. The BenevolentAI Platform™ powers a growing in-house pipeline of over 20 drug programmes, spanning from target discovery to clinical studies, and it maintains successful commercial collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies. BenevolentAI also identified Eli Lilly's baricitinib as a repurposing drug candidate for COVID-19, which has been authorised for emergency use by the FDA. BenevolentAI is headquartered in London, with a research facility in Cambridge (UK) and a further office in New York.
Rajin Kang - VP Communications