USA – 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 under investigation.

The three-year extension includes a one-time payment, research funding, development milestone payments, and tiered royalties on future revenue.

The collaboration, which began in 2019, is being expanded to include systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and heart failure (HF) in addition to ongoing work to identify multiple novel targets in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

The collaboration has already achieved two significant milestones, with the addition of the first novel targets to AstraZeneca’s portfolio for both CKD and IPF.

SLE is a complex autoimmune condition that can affect multiple organ systems, and patients frequently report insufficient disease control, long-term organ damage, and poor health-related quality of life.

It can cause a variety of symptoms such as pain, rashes, fatigue, joint swelling, and fevers. Lupus affects at least five million people worldwide.

Similarly, heart failure is a chronic condition that affects approximately 64 million people worldwide. Although improved treatment options have increased patients’ life expectancy, mortality rates continue to rise.

One in every three people over the age of 55 will develop HF during their lifetime, with roughly half of these patients expected to die within five years of diagnosis.

The Benevolent Platform is disease agnostic, which means it can be applied to any disease and can generate novel targets on a large scale.

Both companies’ scientists and technologists will use the Benevolent Platform and biomedical Knowledge Graph — which uniquely combines 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.

Lupus has recently become a potential moneymaker for AstraZeneca, as the company rushed a new drug, Saphnelo, through the FDA approval process last August.

According to AstraZeneca, it is the first new lupus approval in at least ten years, and it reduces overall disease activity across organ systems as well as oral corticosteroid use when compared to placebo.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is hoping that Farxiga will be a blockbuster in the field of heart failure. The drug was approved in 2020 to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization in patients with heart failure and a low ejection fraction. It also received approval in CKD last April.

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