Janssen licenses drugs to artificial intelligence company

Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica has licensed a range of drug candidates to BenevolentAI, a UK-based artificial intelligence company.

The deal will make use of BenevolentAI’s core artificial intelligence technology, the Judgment Augmented Cognition System (JACS).

The system, which will be applied to the development of the new range of drug candidates, uses deep learning techniques to analyse massive amounts of scientific information and provide actionable insights.

BenevolentAI gains the sole rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise the new candidates in all indications and in all territories.

“We are delighted to have acquired rights to these compounds under a license agreement from Janssen,” said Jackie Hunter, Board Director of BenevolentAI and chief executive of BenevolentAI Bio.

“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.”

Which diseases the compounds will be targeting have not been specified, however, BenevolentBio – the company’s drug development division – is focused on diseases with high unmet needs, including certain inflammatory conditions, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, orphan diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and rare cancers.

The company’s AI capabilities recently experienced an upgrade with the addition of the world’s first AI “supercomputer in a box”, the NVIDIA DGX-1, to its portfolio. The addition made BenevolentAI the first European company to utilise the supercomputer in the drug discovery process.

BenevolentAI intends to begin late-stage phase 2b clinical trials for the candidates by mid-2017.

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