The annual Fierce 15 competition whittles down nominations from around the globe to recognise fifteen medical technology companies leading in innovation and creativity. This accolade is demonstrative of a year of embracing new milestones at Benevolent, and a testament to our cutting-edge technology and powerful collaborations.
As Conor Hale, Associate Editor of Fierce Medtech commented: “Each member of this year’s class of Fierce 15 stands out in a different way, but they all overcame a year of unforgettable obstacles, making each of their successes that much more significant.”
Despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic and accompanying lockdowns, 2020 saw us achieve impactful results. Our COVID-19 research, which began in January 2020, led to us identifying baricitinib as a potential treatment across one weekend. Just nine months later, baricitinib became one of the few coronavirus treatments approved by the FDA for emergency use.
In parallel, we continued to push ahead with our AstraZeneca collaboration. In April 2020, we delivered the first output of hypotheses for CKD; and more recently, AstraZeneca selected the first AI-generated CKD target for their portfolio after it was biologically validated via their rigorous experimental testing. Our data-driven approach integrated AstraZeneca’s disease experts alongside our data scientists, bioinformaticians and machine learning engineers. This cross-functional connection continues to yield new ideas and leads us to generating novel, higher quality targets whilst reducing the time traditionally taken to discover a potential drug candidate.
Simultaneously, we continued to deepen and strengthen our internal pipeline of drug programmes. In February 2021 we dosed the first patient in the randomised clinical trial of BEN-2293, a molecule we designed and developed to treat atopic dermatitis. We hope this treatment will address the inflammation and itch that makes the disease so difficult to endure.
The drug discovery industry still faces significant challenges. It is expensive and high risk, with long R&D cycles, which cost today’s patients. There has never been a more critical time to play a part in changing this, and by fusing human and machine intelligence we believe we can help to shorten this complex process and create treatments which are more effective for patients.
Is our goal an ambitious one? Absolutely. But we believe we have only just started to see the impact of our technology and approach and are eager to see what achievements and progress lie ahead. We are delighted to be recognised amongst fellow tech pioneers by Fierce Medtech at this stage of our journey.