AstraZeneca has announced a collaboration with Benevolent AI in order to use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to discover potential new drugs for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The two companies will create a team of scientists that will work side-by-side to combine AstraZeneca’s genomics, chemistry and clinical data with BenevolentAI’s target identification platform and biomedical knowledge graph – a network of contextualised scientific data such as genes, proteins, diseases and compounds, and the relationship between them.

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

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.”

Chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are complex diseases in which the underlying disease biology is poorly understood. This disease complexity requires the interrogation of vast, rich datasets.