AstraZeneca Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Speed Discovery of New Medicines for IPF

AstraZeneca Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Speed Discovery of New Medicines for IPF

A long-term collaboration was announced to accelerate the discovery of new medicines for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) by combining BenevolentAI’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning with AstraZeneca’s pharmaceutical and clinical data.

BenevolentAI, a U.K.-based company, developed an AI system that mines and analyzes vast amounts of complex biomedical information, such as data on clinical trials, genes, targets, diseases, proteins, and medicines to propose unbiased new hypotheses and extrapolate previously unknown relationships much more efficiently than human beings can.

The AI system can, for instance, identify molecules which have failed in previous clinical trials, and predict whether these same compounds could work for other diseases, or it can design new molecules based on existing data.

The goal of BenevolentAI is to improve patients’ lives through technology that’s designed to generate better data decision-making, and increase the speed at which therapies are developed.

Scientists from the two companies will work side by side, combining AstraZeneca’s genomics, chemistry, and clinical data with BenevolentAI’s target identification platform.

“The vast amount of data available to research scientists is growing exponentially each year,” Mene Pangalos, an executive vice president at AstraZeneca, said in a press release.

“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,” Pangalos added.

AstraZeneca is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of therapies in three main areas: oncology, cardiovascular, and renal/metabolism and respiratory.

At this point, the two companies are focused on IPF and CKD — a condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function.

“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,” said Joanna Shields, CEO of BenevolentAI. “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.”


    • Alberto Molano says:

      Hi Linda, it’s a very good question. IPF and CKD are different conditions and for the average reader, this answer should suffice. But if you’re curious and want to know more, the answer may not be as straightforward. For example, fibrosis is considered to be a major contributor to progression of almost all forms of kidney disease. Thus, fibrosis is a major pathophysiologic mechanism underlying both IPF and CKD and, in the past, pharmaceutical companies who have developed anti-fibrotic medications for CKD have tested them for IPF as well. In addition, there is evidence that CKD predicts survival in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis Thus, there may be some relationship between both conditions.

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