Most scientific breakthroughs are made by analysing data, but we live in a world where the exponential growth of scientific research data makes the discovery of new drugs and treatments for disease very difficult.
A researcher can only read a few hundred scientific papers per year and as a result, the research hypotheses that come from this traditional research approach doesn’t look at all the available evidence. The sheer volume and growth of data presents a significant challenge to traditional scientific discovery methods in selecting the most promising hypothesis.
We have developed a technology to try to solve this issue and, given our belief that AI should be used as a force for good, we have created the BenevolentAI Award offering medical research charities the chance to benefit from the successes we’ve had in developing, validating and commercialising our technology in drug discovery.
In essence, the technology is solving the data problem by applying AI to the mass analysis of vast amounts of scientific information such as scientific papers, patents, clinical trials, data and images. By doing so we are giving experienced scientists the augmented insight and analytical tools they need to create usable and deep knowledge that dramatically speeds up scientific discovery.
For example, in early 2016, we started to look at ALS (also known as Motor Neurone Disease). Despite no technological or scientific expertise in ALS, in just half a day our technology produced a list of potential hypotheses for the treatment of ALS. These hypotheses were then triaged and tested by BenevolentAI’s scientists. After a week, we had arrived at five hypotheses that represented the best potential treatments for the disease. We took these initial hypotheses to the world authority on ALS – the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). They were astonished by what we had done.
One of our hypotheses matched their ongoing research and two were completely novel. After a year of further study and testing, it was announced that our technology may have found a way to prevent the death of motor neurones, a key to finding a cure for this disease – an important inventive step.
The work in ALS has inspired us to want to do this again for other diseases. The BenevolentAI Award is a way to offer this opportunity to charities outside of our commercial activities. In partnership with the AMRC, the Award aims to help charities accelerate their medical research and potentially develop new treatments and therapies using artificial intelligence.
About the BenevolentAI award
The Award will be given to a single applicant once a year. BenevolentAI will offer the winning applicant access to the company’s unique technology platform in order to solve specific research challenges the selected charity is facing. For example, to carry out a deep investigation into a specific disease, create a better understanding of the disease, identify new areas and approaches in R&D and accelerate research towards new treatments and cures. The deadline for applications is 31 January. To apply visit the Award page.
Do you have more questions? Please read the most commonly asked questions here.