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BenevolentAI Identifies Novel Target For Ulcerative Colitis And Advances Candidate To IND/CTA-Enabling Studies

– The Benevolent PlatformTM for AI-driven drug discovery identified and validated a novel biological target not previously linked to the disease
– BenevolentAI researchers nominated preclinical candidate within two years of novel target validation
– Ulcerative Colitis asset rapidly advancing to the clinic alongside biomarker development to identify patients most likely to respond to treatment

In a significant milestone for its (AI)-driven drug discovery platform, BenevolentAI has nominated a preclinical candidate for a novel ulcerative colitis target, and plans to advance the asset into clinical trials.

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Scientists deployed BenevolentAI’s powerful target ID tools and machine learning models to identify and experimentally validate a novel biological target with no prior reference in published literature or patents linking the gene to ulcerative colitis. BenevolentAI used its advanced molecular design capabilities to generate a potential best-in-class, oral, peripherally restricted candidate drug within two years of target validation. The preclinical candidate has been experimentally validated in ex-vivo ulcerative colitis colon samples from patients who were unresponsive to the standard of care treatment.

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BenevolentAI plans to move the programme into the clinic in early 2023. The company is currently applying its precision medicine AI models to inform clinical trial design, trained on ulcerative colitis patient data to target key responder patient cohorts and identify efficacy biomarkers.

Anne Phelan, Chief Scientific Officer at BenevolentAI, commented, “Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, lifelong disease that affects 0.2% of the US population alone and 1.6 million patients in the 7 major markets, yet it is poorly served by the standard of care therapies. Our novel preclinical candidate addresses the high unmet need for an oral, safe and efficacious therapy and has demonstrated improved safety and tolerability profile compared with other leading IBD treatments. We are actively using patient-derived molecular descriptors to target patient subgroups that will optimise trial design and further increase our probability of success.”

Joanna Shields, Chief Executive Officer of BenevolentAI, commented, “Nominating a drug candidate for a novel ulcerative colitis target identified by our AI-drug discovery platform represents a milestone for BenevolentAI but more importantly, advances a new potential treatment for this debilitating disease.”

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This latest milestone in ulcerative colitis further validates Benevolent’s AI Platform and drug discovery expertise in identifying novel targets for complex multifactorial diseases. In early 2021, a novel AI-generated target was selected for AstraZeneca’s portfolio in CKD, with further targets expected in IPF. The ulcerative colitis programme sits within a rapidly scaling pipeline of over 20 in-house programmes, including an asset in clinical trials for atopic dermatitis. The company also discovered Eli Lilly’s baricitinib as a treatment for COVID-19 – a novel drug repurposing hypothesis that is now clinically validated and FDA Approved. As of 2021, BenevolentAI is the only AI-augmented drug discovery company whose drug discovery platform and approach has been validated computationally, experimentally and in the clinic.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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