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Artificial intelligence firm licenses Janssen candidates for development

UK-based BenevolentAI aims to move them into late-stage trials by mid-2017

AI research data

Janssen has licensed a number of pipeline candidates to a UK artificial intelligence company that wants to use technology to innovate the drug development process.

BenevolentAI has acquired an exclusive licence for the novel clinical stage candidates, having first used its AI technology to assess their potential.

It continues the firm's move into territory more often associated with IT heavyweights like Google and its DeepMind Health unit or IBM and its Watson technology.

BenevolentAI's deal with J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutica NV company focuses on hard to treat diseases and will allow it to select a number of small molecule compounds, along with their patent portfolio.

BenevolentAI will then have the sole right to develop, manufacture and commercialise these novel drug candidates in all indications and in all territories.

The London-based firm said the agreement would enable it to accelerate its development pipeline and use its artificial intelligence technology to provide a rich source of clinical data.

Financial terms for the deal were not disclosed, but BenevolentAI said it intends to begin late-stage phase IIb clinical trials of the unnamed candidates in mid-2017.

Jackie Hunter, board director of BenevolentAI and BenevolentAI Bio CEO, said: “The agreement adds further depth to our clinical and pre-clinical development pipeline and marks a very exciting time for the role of artificial intelligence to benefit scientific discovery and humanity.

“The compounds come with a wealth of clinical and biological data that enables BenevolentAI to have further insights into the biology of diseases.”

The company's strategy is to develop first-in-class and best-in-class stratified - or personalised - medicines and Hunter said the Janssen deal was perfectly aligned with that.

BenevolentAI was founded in 2013 as a spin-out of pharmaceutical company Proximagen. A year later it signed a $800m R&D collaboration with an unnamed US pharma company to develop new treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Its BenevoluentAI Bio operations - until recently known as Stratified Medical - apply its technology to human health and bioscience, where it is currently focusing on neurodegenerative diseases, orphan disease and rare cancers.

But the firm says it plans to remain flexible about future opportunities, and highlights women's health, veterinary medicine nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and agri-tech as areas it may move into.

10th November 2016

From: Research

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