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1 May, 2019 - 22:40 By Kate Sweeney

AstraZeneca puts trust in AI in hunt for drug targets

AstraZeneca Mene Pangalos

Law firm Eversheds Sutherland has been employed to advise global pharma company AstraZeneca on its collaboration with BenevolentAI to use artificial intelligence and machine learning for the discovery and development of potential new treatments for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Machine learning systematically analyses data to find connections between facts, and AI-based reasoning is used to extrapolate previously unknown connections. Together, the companies will interpret the results to understand the underlying mechanisms of these complex diseases and more quickly identify new potential drug targets.

Charlotte Walker-Osborn, technology and cybersecurity law partner and international head of Eversheds Sutherland’s technology sector, led the team, with assistance from the global legal practice’s intellectual property and privacy & cybersecurity law teams.

Eversheds Sutherland advised AstraZeneca on the complex contractual, intellectual property, collaboration, data, technology, cyber and AI aspects.
Charlotte Walker-Osborn said: “We are delighted to have helped AstraZeneca create a ground-breaking collaboration with its partner BenevolentAI to accelerate certain drug discovery and look forward to supporting AstraZeneca on future technology, AI and machine learning matters.”

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President and President BioPharmaceuticals R&D, said: “The vast amount of data available to research scientists is growing exponentially each year. By combining AstraZeneca’s disease area expertise and large, diverse datasets with BenevolentAI’s leading AI and machine learning capabilities, we can unlock the potential of this wealth of data to improve our understanding of complex disease biology and identify new targets that could treat debilitating diseases.”  

Joanna Shields, Chief Executive Officer, BenevolentAI, said: “Millions of people today suffer from diseases that have no effective treatment. The future of drug discovery and development lies in bridging the gap between AI, data, and biology. We are thrilled to be joining forces with AstraZeneca to develop new insights and identify promising new treatments for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”

CKD and IPF are complex diseases in which the underlying disease biology is poorly understood. This disease complexity requires the interrogation of vast, rich datasets.

BenevolentAI is a global AI leader focused on drug discovery. The company has developed the Benevolent Platform, an AI discovery platform which can be used by scientists to try to discover novel pathways and mechanisms important in the pathophysiology of disease. 

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